Melbourne police treating fatal stabbing attack as terrorism

Melbourne police treating fatal stabbing attack as terrorism
A man of Somali origin stabbed three passerbys on a busy Melbourne street before being shot dead by police.
2 min read
09 November, 2018
Police inspect body after stabbing incident in Melbourne [Getty]
Australian police on Friday said they were treating a deadly knife attack in Melbourne as an an act of terror, with the Islamic State group claiming responsibility.

"We are now treating this as a terrorism event," said Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, adding that the suspect is "someone that is known to us" and had travelled to central Melbourne in a 4x4 packed with BBQ gas cyclinders.

Ashton said the attacker - who was shot by police and died 30 minutes later in custody -was known by the authorities because of family connections and had been in Australia for decades, coming from Somalia.

The counter-terrorism command has taken a lead role in the investigation, but police at first said there was no known link to terrorism and were investigating.

The deceased suspect had stabbed three people, leaving one dead and two others injured but they are not believed to be life-threatening wounds.

Police were dispatched to the scene after reports of a car fire near Bourke Street, a main thoroughfare in Australia's second-largest city, at about 4:20pm local time.

A video posted to social media showed the knife-wielding man attempting to stab officers before falling to the ground.

A passerby pushing a trolly also intervened by repeatedly attempting to ram it into the assailant. 

Police officers who apprehended the suspect are now being treated for cuts and scrapes and are not thought to be in a serious condition.

Ashton said the authorities do not see any ongoing threat related to the attack.

The assailant had a minor criminal history of drug, theft and driving offences, and he lived in a suburb of Melbourne northwest of the city.

He reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack, but police have not confirmed the reports. 

The overwhelming majority of attacks IS claims are undertaken by men acting in its name but who have no operational links to the group.

They typically record short videos professing their allegiance to the jihadist group. 

IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has called on supporters to carry out "lone wolf" attacks in Western countries.

In 2017, another deadly incident occured on the same street after James Gargasoulas drove his car into pedestrians, killing six.

Gargasoulas is currently on trial for the 2017 attack. 

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