Aus­tralia at­tack: man shot by po­lice in ter­ror in­ci­dent claimed by Isis

The Guardian - - WORLD - Ad­di­tional re­port­ing Calla Wahlquist and Christo­pher Knaus Melissa Davey Naa­man Zhou

Po­lice are treat­ing an at­tack at Bourke Street mall in Mel­bourne, in which a man was stabbed to death and two oth­ers in­jured, as a ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent.

The at­tacker was shot by po­lice and died yes­ter­day in hos­pi­tal.

Wit­nesses said they heard a loud ex­plo­sion and saw a car burst into flames out­side a Tar­get store on Bourke Street at about 4.20pm.

Gra­ham Ash­ton, chief com­mis­sioner of Vic­to­ria po­lice, said the at­tacker was known to po­lice and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. He said fire­fight­ers found gas cylin­ders in the ve­hi­cle.

“What we know so far about the in­di­vid­ual … from what we know we are treat­ing this as a ter­ror­ism in­ci­dent,” he said. “We be­lieve we have con­fir­ma­tion on the iden­tity [and] there are on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­ing con­ducted by counter-ter­ror­ism [forces]. I am not at lib­erty to dis­close the iden­tity of this per­son.

“He is known to po­lice, mainly in re­spect to rel­a­tives that he has that are per­sons of in­ter­est to us.”

Wit­nesses said the at­tacker stabbed the vic­tim, be­lieved to be in his 60s, in the face. He died at the scene de­spite ef­forts to save him. The other two vic­tims, both men, are re­cov­er­ing from in­juries that are not thought to be life-threat­en­ing.

The at­tacker, who had a his­tory of mi­nor drug, theft and driv­ing of­fences, lived in Mel­bourne’s north-west­ern sub­urbs and came to Aus­tralia from So­ma­lia in the 1990s, Ash­ton said.

Is­lamic State later claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack via its Amaq me­dia agency, but there was no in­de­pen­dent cor­rob­o­ra­tion of their in­volve­ment.

Ash­ton said there was “more work” to be done at the crime scene and Bourke Street would re­main cor­doned off overnight. He said po­lice were not aware of any con­tin­u­ing threat.

Footage cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia showed a man ad­vanc­ing to­wards po­lice of­fi­cers af­ter the ve­hi­cle ex­ploded and at­tempt­ing to stab them, and then fall­ing back­wards af­ter what sounded like a gun­shot. One of the of­fi­cers had their weapon drawn. The al­ter­ca­tion was filmed from mul­ti­ple an­gles by sev­eral by­standers. Ash­ton con­tra­dicted so­cial me­dia re­ports that the at­tacker had yelled “Al­lahu Ak­bar” [God is great­est].

“A four-wheel drive util­ity [ve­hi­cle] drove into Bourke Street be­tween Rus­sell Street and Swanston Street and parked there,” Ash­ton said.

“One male was in the ve­hi­cle. A fire was then started in that ve­hi­cle. He got out of the ve­hi­cle, en­gaged with some mem­bers of the pub­lic at that lo­ca­tion. Al­most within a minute, Vic­to­ria po­lice of­fi­cers were in at­ten­dance in an un­marked ve­hi­cle.

“If there are wit­nesses to this event, we would like to talk with them and we’d ask if they could at­tend any of our po­lice sta­tions.”

Daniel An­drews, the Vic­to­ria pre­mier, said: “We will not be de­fined by this.” He thanked the po­lice for their quick re­sponse.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: EPA

Screen­shots from a by­s­tander’s video show a man wield­ing a knife in Bourke Street in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia

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