Melbourne stabbing spree leaves 2 dead, including attacker
MELBOURNE, Australia — A knife-wielding man was fatally shot by police in Melbourne on Friday after he stabbed three people, killing one, in what authorities described as a terrorist attack.
Witnesses said the man emerged from a vehicle, which then burst into flames, shortly after 4 p.m. Police said there were gas cylinders in the vehicle. The man then began to attack pedestrians on Bourke Street, a busy shopping strip in Melbourne’s city center.
When officers arrived at the scene, they were confronted with the man brandishing a bloody knife. A video of the confrontation, which circulated on social media, shows a civilian bystander trying to help the police by repeatedly pushing a shopping cart at the man.
“Someone screamed, ‘I think he has a knife,’ and I turned around and saw the car on fire,” said Meegan May, who was a passenger on a tram that passed the scene of the attack.
Officers ultimately shot the man in the chest and arrested him. The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, was taken to a hospital, where he died about 30 minutes later, police said.
“We are treating this as a terrorism incident,” Graham Ashton, chief commissioner of the Victoria Police, said at a news conference. He said the Somaliborn man — identified as 30year-old Hassain Khalif Shire Ali — had been known to the police.
According to the Associated Press, Shire Ali had also planned to set off an explosion. Victoria state Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said Shire Ali had planned for his vehicle to explode, but gas cylinders in the back of his pickup failed to ignite.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks the activity of extremist organizations online, although the group provided no evidence.
The names and ages of the victims, who were all men, have not yet been released.
The incident occurred less than two years after an attack on the same street, in which a man barreled his car into a crowd, killing six pedestrians and injuring at least 30 others. His trial is underway this week in the Victorian Supreme Court.