Aus­tralian po­lice say stab­bing at­tack linked to IS ter­ror­ism

One per­son killed and three in­jured in rush hour atroc­ity

The Scotsman - - World News - By TREVOR MAR­SHALLSEA in Syd­ney

A knife-wield­ing man stabbed three peo­ple, one fa­tally, in Aus­tralia’s sec­ond-largest city yes­ter­day in an at­tack po­lice linked to ter­ror­ism.

The at­tack dur­ing the af­ter­noon rush hour brought cen­tral Mel­bourne to a stand­still.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple watched from be­hind bar­ri­cades as po­lice tried to ap­pre­hend the at­tacker.

Po­lice said the man got out of a pickup 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.

The sus­pect died later at a hospi­tal. One of the vic­tims also died, while the two oth­ers were hos­pi­talised.

Po­lice said the at­tacker’s ve­hi­cle con­tained sev­eral bar­be­cue gas cylin­ders in the back. A bomb squad ren­dered them safe with­out any ex­plod­ing.

Vic­to­ria state po­lice Com­mis­sioner Gra­ham Ash­ton said the sus­pect, who was 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 in­ci­dent,” Mr Ash­ton told re­porters, adding that the po­lice coun­tert­er­ror­ism com­mand was work­ing on the case, as well as homi­cide de­tec­tives.

He’s known to po­lice mainly in re­spect to rel­a­tives 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. He did not elab­o­rate.

The Islamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack in a state­ment re­leased through its Aa­maq me­dia arm, but pro­vided no ev­i­dence. It said the man was an Islamic State fighter and had re­sponded to IS calls for at­tacks in coun­tries that are part of the in­ter­na­tional coali­tion fight­ing the mil­i­tants in Syria and Iraq. IS, which has suf­fered heavy bat­tle­field set­backs in the past year, of­ten claims at­tacks with­out any clear con­nec­tion.

Yes­ter­day’s 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 the fol­low­ing day. 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 in a state­ment.

One wit­ness said one of the stab­bing 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,” the wit­ness, Markel Vil­lasin, said.

“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 17-hour siege in which a gun­man took 18 peo­ple hostage in a Syd­ney cafe ended with two hostages dead and the gun­man killed by po­lice.

Though the er­ratic gun­man de­manded that po­lice de­liver him an IS flag at the out­set of the cri­sis, there was no ev­i­dence he had es­tab­lished con­tact with the mil­i­tant group.

How­ever, at a later in­quest, the coro­ner of New South Wales state said the gun­man’s ac­tions fell “within the ac­cepted def­i­ni­tion of ter­ror­ism.”

A man runs pasy a burn­ing ve­hi­cle in Mel­bourne af­ter the driver stopped the ve­hi­cle and stabbed a num­ber of peo­ple – one per­son was killed and two oth­ers in­jured

Po­lice at the scene fol­low­ing the stab­bing in­ci­dent in Mel­bourne

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.