Knifeman killed by police after terror attack
Suspected Isil fanatic leaves one pedestrian dead and two others injured on busy Melbourne street
POLICE believe a deadly stabbing spree in Melbourne by a Somali-born Australian man was an act of terrorism, possibly designed to coincide with the explosion in the city centre of a vehicle filled with gas cylinders.
In an attack described by the state premier as an “act of evil”, the man drove a utility vehicle down Bourke Street, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, and then stopped and apparently set it alight before stabbing pedestrians.
One person was killed and two, aged 26 and 58, were injured.
The man was named by Melbourne’s Herald Sun as Mohamed Khalif, 31, whose 21-year-old brother was accused of plotting a mass murder on New Year’s Eve at Federation Square last year – a city centre hub and popular tourist spot.
Footage taken by witnesses showed the man lunging with a large knife at police, who shot him in the chest and killed him. Bystanders were yelling at police: “Just shoot him, just shoot him.”
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) claimed responsibility for the attack through its news outlet, Amaq,
The incident began on Friday about 4.30pm, as streams of people were shopping and heading home.
Some pedestrians – including one with a shopping trolley, now labelled “trolley man” – attempted to fend off the attacker.
When police arrived, the assailant punched one officer through the car window and appeared to show little fear as he repeatedly tried to stab them.
Some witnesses claimed that the man, who was tall and wearing a long, dark coat, was yelling “Allahu akbar”, but police said this was not confirmed.
“He seemed to be waving something, people around me screamed that he had a knife,” a witness told ABC News. “And then I heard one loud bang. It sounded like a gunshot.”
According to the Herald Sun, the attacker was also known as Hassan Shire and his wife has been radicalised. It said his passport had been cancelled for several years and he was one of 300 “persons of interest” in the state.
Graham Ashton, Victoria Police’s Chief Commissioner, said that the man moved from Somalia to Melbourne’s north-west suburbs in the 1990s and was known to counterterrorism agencies through his “family associations”. He said: “From what we know of that individual, we are treating this as a terrorism incident.”
Mr Ashton said the man had convictions for cannabis use, theft and driving offences, but not for violent offences. He said there was not believed to be an ongoing threat.
Melbourne has experienced numerous terror attacks and plots in recent years. In 2009, authorities conducted raids in the city and charged five Somali-born Australian men suspected of terrorism offences. Three were later convicted of planning to attack an army barracks.
Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, condemned the latest attack as an “act of evil”. He said: “We’ll not, as a city and a state, be defined by this act of evil.”
The incident happened as the trial began of James Gargasoulas, who is accused of killing six people in Bourke Street last year after allegedly deliberately driving through them with a car. Mr Gargasoulas, 28, who was in a druginduced psychosis at the time, has pleaded not guilty.
Police do not believe the attacks were linked.
Screenshots taken from a video show police in Melbourne tackling a man armed with a knife in Bourke Street yesterday. Bystanders were yelling at police: ‘Just shoot him, just shoot him’. The attacker, later named as Mohamed Khalif, was shot in the chest and killed