One dead in Oz ter­ror­ist stab at­tack

Irish Examiner - - World News - Trevor Marshallsea

A knife-wield­ing man has stabbed three peo­ple, one fa­tally, in Mel­bourne in an at­tack po­lice linked to ter­ror­ism.

The at­tack dur­ing the af­ter­noon rush hour brought the cen­tre of Aus­tralia’s sec­ond largest city to a stand­still. Hun­dreds of peo­ple watched from be­hind bar­ri­cades as po­lice tried to ap­pre­hend the at­tacker.

Of­fi­cers said the man got out of a pick-up truck, which then caught fire, and at­tacked three by­standers with a knife.

He also at­tempted to at­tack po­lice who ar­rived on the scene, be­fore be­ing shot in the chest by an of­fi­cer. He died in hos­pi­tal.

One of the vic­tims also died, while the two oth­ers were ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal.

Po­lice said the at­tacker’s ve­hi­cle con­tained sev­eral bar­be­cue gas cylin­ders in the back. A bomb squad ren­dered them safe.

Vic­to­ria po­lice com­mis­sioner Gra­ham Ash­ton said the sus­pect, orig­i­nally from So­ma­lia, was known to po­lice and the in­ci­dent was be­ing treated as ter­ror­ism.

“From what we know of that in­di­vid­ual we are treat­ing this as a ter­ror­ism inci- dent,” he told re­porters, adding that the po­lice coun­tert­er­ror­ism com­mand was work­ing on the case with homi­cide de­tec­tives.

“He’s known to po­lice mainly in re­spect to rel­a­tives that he has, which cer­tainly are per­sons of in­ter­est to us, and he’s some­one that ac­cord­ingly is known to both Vic­to­rian po­lice and the fed­eral in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties,” he said.

The Is­lamic State (IS) group claimed the at­tack in a state­ment re­leased through its Aa­maq me­dia arm.

It said the man was “one of Is­lamic State fighters” and had re­sponded to IS calls for at­tacks in coun­tries that are part of the in­ter­na­tional co- ali­tion fight­ing the mil­i­tants in Syria and Iraq.

The at­tack oc­curred on the eve of a busy week­end in Mel­bourne, with a ma­jor horse race sched­uled for to­day and a na­tional league foot­ball match to­mor­row. Sun­day is also Re­mem­brance Day, when me­mo­rial cer­e­monies for the First World War are held.

Mr Ash­ton said po­lice were “do­ing se­cu­rity re­assess­ments of th­ese events in light of what’s oc­curred”, but there was “no on­go­ing threat we’re cur­rently aware of in re­la­tion to peo­ple sur­round­ing this in­di­vid­ual”.

Prime min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son con­demned the “evil and cow­ardly at­tack”.

“Aus­tralians will never be in­tim­i­dated by th­ese ap­palling at­tacks and we will con­tinue to go about our lives and en­joy the free­doms that the ter­ror­ists de­test,” he said.

A wit­ness said one of the vic­tims, be­lieved to be a man in his 60s who later died, was stabbed in the face, and that des­per­ate ef­forts were made to save him.

“Be­cause he was on his stom­ach, they turned him over to see if he’s all right, he was still alive,” Markel Vil­lasin told Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press. “He was breath­ing and he was bleed­ing out.”

Video from the scene showed a man swing­ing a knife at two po­lice of­fi­cers near a burn­ing car be­fore he was shot.

In De­cem­ber 2014, a 17hour siege in which a gun­man took 18 peo­ple hostage in a Syd­ney café ended with two hostages dead and the gun­man killed by po­lice.

Though the er­ratic gun­man de­manded that po­lice de­liver him an IS flag, there was no ev­i­dence he had es­tab­lished con­tact with the mil­i­tant group. How­ever, at a later in­quest, the coro­ner of New South Wales said the gun­man’s ac­tions fell “within the ac­cepted def­i­ni­tion of ter­ror­ism”.

Pic­ture: James Ross/AAP Im­age via AP

A burnt out ve­hi­cle at the scene of a fa­tal stab­bing on Bourke St in Mel­bourne.

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