Australia attack: man shot by police in terror incident claimed by Isis
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.
Screenshots from a bystander’s video show a man wielding a knife in Bourke Street in Melbourne, Australia