Po­lice shoot dead Bourke St at­tacker

Cyprus Today - - WORLD -

A SO­MALI-born man set fire to a pickup truck laden with gas cylin­ders in the cen­tre of the Aus­tralian city of Mel­bourne yes­ter­day and stabbed three peo­ple, killing one, be­fore he was shot by po­lice in a ram­page they called an act of ter­ror­ism.

Is­lamic State claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, with­out pro­vid­ing any ev­i­dence.

The util­ity truck car­ry­ing bar­be­cue gas cylin­ders burned on busy Bourke Street just be­fore the evening rush hour as the driver stabbed by­standers and at­tacked po­lice.

The cylin­ders did not ex­plode and the fire was put out in 10 min­utes, by which point the at­tack was over.

“We are still try­ing to piece to­gether whether the ve­hi­cle was lit and then he got out the car or whether he got out the car and then the ve­hi­cle took flame,” Vic­to­ria Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Gra­ham Ash­ton told re­porters.

Video posted to Twit­ter and broad­cast on tele­vi­sion showed the man swing­ing a knife at two po­lice of­fi­cers, while his truck burned in the back­ground.

One of the of­fi­cers shot the man and he col­lapsed to the ground clutch­ing his chest, the video showed. Other footage showed two stab vic­tims ly­ing on the ground nearby.

The at­tacker, who po­lice said was 31, died in hos­pi­tal, as did one of the vic­tims, Mr Ash­ton said. “From what we know of that in­di­vid­ual, we are treat­ing this as a ter­ror­ism in­ci­dent,” he said of the at­tacker.

Asked about what the at­tacker had been plan­ning, Mr Ash­ton re­ferred to the gas cylin­ders in the car and said: “You could make cer­tain as­sump­tions from that.”

Vic­to­ria po­lice de­clined to com­ment when con­tacted about Is­lamic State’s claim. The mil­i­tant group also claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for a deadly siege in the city in 2017 when a So­mali man was killed by po­lice af­ter tak­ing a woman hostage.

Mr Ash­ton said there was no longer a threat to the pub­lic but that se­cu­rity would be boosted at horse races and Re­mem­brance Day memo­ri­als over the week­end.

Po­lice did not iden­tify the at­tacker but Mr Ash­ton said the man was known to them and in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties be­cause of fam­ily as­so­ci­a­tions.

All of the vic­tims were men, Mr Ash­ton said. He de­clined to re­lease their names be­cause po­lice were still in the process of con­tact­ing fam­i­lies.

Po­lice later said the two wounded men were aged 26 and 58. Asked if the at­tacker had re­cently trav­elled to Syria he said: “That is some­thing we might be able to talk more about to­mor­row.”

A staunch US ally, Aus­tralia has been on alert for such vi­o­lence af­ter a Syd­ney café siege in 2014, and its in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have stepped up scru­tiny, though there was no warn­ing of the lat­est at­tack.

Au­thor­i­ties say Aus­tralia’s vig­i­lance has helped to foil at least a dozen plots, in­clud­ing a plan to at­tack down­town Mel­bourne at Christ­mas in 2016.

Po­lice­men block mem­bers of the pub­lic from walk­ing to­wards the Bourke Street mall in cen­tral Mel­bourne yes­ter­day

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