One killed in Melbourne stabbing attack claimed by Islamic State

Update 1.04pm: 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 incident,” he told reporters, adding that the police counter-terrorism 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 know to both Victorian police and the federal intelligence authorities,” he said.

Police at the scene (Australian Broadcasting Corporation/AP)

The Islamic State 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 coalition 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 Saturday 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.

One 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 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 said the gunman’s actions fell “within the accepted definition of terrorism”.

Earlier: Fatal stabbing in Melbourne ‘linked to terrorism’

Officers said the car contained several barbecue gas cylinders.

Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews said the attack was "an evil and terrifying thing that has happened in our city and state today".

Mr Ashton added: "From what we know of that individual we are treating this as a terrorism incident," adding that the police counter-terrorism command was working on the case as well as 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 know to both Victorian police and the federal intelligence authorities."

Earlier: A knife-wielding man has stabbed two people, one fatally, in Melbourne in an attack believed to be linked to terrorism, police said.

The attack during the afternoon rush hour brought the centre of Australia’s second largest city to a standstill.

Police said the man got out of a vehicle, which then caught fire, and attacked three bystanders with a knife before being shot by police.

The suspect died later in hospital. One of the victims also died and the two others were admitted to hospital.

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

Superintendent David Clayton said police responded to reports of a burning vehicle.

Officers were confronted near the burning car by a man “brandishing a knife and threatening them” while passers-by called out that people had been stabbed, he said.

Mr Clayton said investigators did not believe there were any other assailants. The man was shot in the chest by police.

He said a bomb squad was making the scene safe.

Victoria Police tweeted a request for witnesses to speak to police and share any images that might help the investigation.

Earlier: One dead and two in hospital after man launches knife attack on Melbourne street

One person has died and two are in hospital after a man went on a knife rampage before being shot on a busy shopping street in Australia.

Several bystanders and police officers were attacked by an assailant on central Melbourne’s Bourke Street on Friday afternoon.

Horrifying mobile phone footage shared on social media showed a man lunging at police officers with a knife as a car was engulfed in flames nearby.

After taking several swings at one of the officers, the attacker was shot in the chest.

Victoria Police said they had arrested a man who had been to hospital in a critical condition under police guard.

One eyewitness, who gave her name as Meegan, told ABC Radio Melbourne how she saw two police officers trying to tackle a man as a car burned.

“He seemed to be waving something, people around me screamed that he had a knife, but I couldn’t see clearly from where I was,” she said.

“And then I heard one loud bang. It sounded like a gunshot.

“And someone said they could see someone doing chest compressions on someone as an ambulance started coming up the street.”

Superintendent David Clayton said investigators are “keeping an open mind” and there was “no known link to terrorism at this stage”.

Officers had initially responded to a report of a car on fire on the popular shopping street at 4.20pm (5.20am GMT) on Friday.

He told a press conference at the scene: “Nearby police quickly responded to the incident. As they got out of the car, they were confronted by a male brandishing a knife and threatening them.

“At the same time passers-by were calling out that members of the public had been stabbed. Police shot the male in the chest and he is now in a critical condition under guard at hospital.

“Three people have been stabbed. Unfortunately one is deceased at the scene. Two other victims are currently in hospital.”

Police said the victims appeared to have been stabbed in the upper body.

Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, praised the police and bystanders who rushed to help “complete strangers”.

“Thank you to the @VictoriaPolice officers who responded so bravely, and the every day Victorians who came to the aid of complete strangers,” he wrote on Twitter.

In one video posted on Twitter, the man can be seen repeatedly lashing out at two officers, apparently with a knife.

Two people, apparently members of public – one with a shopping trolley – then come to the officers’ aid.

After the attacker makes several attempts to strike one of the officers, the second officer appears to draw a gun before a single shot rings out.

The suspect can then be seen falling backwards on to the ground as onlookers exclaim in horror.

- Press Association


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