Police block members of the public from walking toward the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne on Friday. Photo: REUTERS
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Truck full of gas cylinders set on fire; 3 stabbed in Melbourne terror attack

22 Comments
By Tom Westbrook and Sonali Paul

A Somali-born man set fire to a pickup truck laden with gas cylinders in the center of the Australian city of Melbourne on Friday and stabbed three people, killing one, before he was shot by police in a rampage they called an act of terrorism.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, without providing any evidence.

The utility truck carrying barbecue gas cylinders burned on busy Bourke Street just before the evening rush hour as the driver stabbed bystanders and attacked police.

The cylinders did not explode and the fire was put out in 10 minutes, by which point the attack was over.

"We are still trying to piece together whether the vehicle was lit then he got out the car or whether he got out the car and then the vehicle took flame," Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters.

Video posted to Twitter and broadcast on television showed the man swinging a knife at two police officers, while his truck burned in the background.

One of the officers shot the man and he collapsed to the ground clutching his chest, the video showed. Other footage showed two stab victims lying on the ground nearby.

The attacker died in hospital, as did one of the victims, Ashton said. "From what we know of that individual, we are treating this as a terrorism incident," he said of the attacker.

Victoria police declined to comment when contacted about Islamic State's claim. The militant group also claimed responsibility for a deadly siege in the city in 2017 when a Somali man was killed by police after taking a woman hostage.

Police gave no information identifying the Melbourne attacker but Ashton said the man was known to them and intelligence authorities because of family associations.

All of the victims were men, Ashton said. He declined to release their names because police were still in the process of contacting families.

Asked if the man had recently travelled to Syria he said:"That is something we might be able to talk more about tomorrow."

A staunch U.S. ally, Australia has been on alert for such violence after a Sydney cafe siege in 2014, and its intelligence agencies have stepped up scrutiny, though there was no warning of the latest attack.

Authorities say Australia's vigilance has helped to foil at least a dozen plots, including a plan to attack downtown Melbourne at Christmas in 2016.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement released on Twitter: "Australia will never be intimidated by these appalling attacks."

Ashton said there was no longer a threat to the public, but that security would be boosted at horse races and Remembrance Day memorials over the weekend.

Video posted to social media showed chaotic scenes as bystanders scattered while the attacker fought with police and his victims lay bleeding on the footpath.

One man charged at the tall attacker, wearing a long black shirt, with a shopping trolley just before police drew their weapons.

A witness, Markel Villasin, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio: "Bystanders were yelling out 'just shoot him, just shoot him'." They did.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the attack was "an evil, terrifying thing that's happened in our city".

Warning text messages were sent after the attack and police sealed off the downtown area, usually busy with shoppers and diners on a Friday evening. Some cordons were lifted later, though the immediate crime scene would be sealed until Saturday, police said.

Memories remain fresh of a fatal but not terror-related attack on the same street last year, in which a man drove his car at pedestrians at high speed, killing six people and wounding about 30. That prompted the city to install hundreds of security bollards. The driver is currently on trial.

In December 2014, two hostages were killed during a 17-hour siege by a "lone wolf" gunman, inspired by Islamic State militants, in a cafe in Sydney.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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World full of crazies.  Police reaction is to send the bomb squad to a knife rampage?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

The attacker has since died.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The bloke with the trolley though lol

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I was just in the 'world's most liveable city' a few days ago. It's become noticeably less so in recent years.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

It could have been a lot worse. Thankfully, people with guns showed up.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

It could have been a lot worse. Thankfully, people with guns showed up.

And thankfully Australia has a sane gun policy.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

And thankfully Australia has a sane gun policy.

That's right. Imagine the damage this guy could have done if he'd had easy access to guns.

The bomb squad was called in because the guy had an SUV full of gas canisters and at that stage, who knew what else. Two cops took the guy on face to face and ended up shooting him once, in the chest. As Tohka says up above, the attacker has died in hospital.

The latest update (just watched the Police Commissioner's press conference) is that this is definitely a terrorism-related incident - the guy's known to police, his family is known to police.

This is the middle of Melbourne, in a street I and most other residents of the city would have walked down hundreds of times. Nowhere on earth is safe from these lunatics.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

A failure on so many levels. Gross incompetence and dereliction of duty by those tasked with vetting a man who, once established, proceeded to repay his host’s hospitality by becoming a known felon. You can’t make this stuff up. And they wonder why Latham has joined forces with Pauline.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

It could have been a lot worse. Thankfully, people with guns showed up.

Oh you mean the authorities? Yes I agree.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The attacker has since died.

He died in hospital, that much was mentioned.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The damaged or deranged mind will use whatever seems to be the best tool available.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Australian government policy has erred - the state now has an excuse to increase more draconian laws to protect Australians from its own blunders.....

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Knife kills a few people at most during attack but gun kills 10 - 20 people instantly. That is a big different. It seems Australia has a good gun control law.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Knife kills a few people at most during attack but gun kills 10 - 20 people instantly. That is a big different. It seems Australia has a good gun control law.

There are plenty who do not believe this obvious logic, always arguing that killers without guns will turn to knives instead, without appreciating the far more limited damage that can be inflicted.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Humans probably have to evolve to live together. We need to evolve to a higher mentality and have more tolerance, less primitive religions, instincts and customs.

Until then it’s pretty obvious that when different nationalities, traditions, values get together and clash and demand unrealistic things from each other.

If you immigrate and don’t assimilate it is hard to not feel excluded sometimes. It’s hard enough being mixed blood even in Japan.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Sadly there appears to be no way to reason with, or even make some form of peace with these Islamic extremists. So what's left to do ?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Robert... oh please!!! There are lots of crime committed by Australian born ( even white men like us ) that lead to deaths! Of course this nutcase was an immigrat ( probably refugee ) but you can’t judge the crime solely on this. The ratio of refugees breaking the law in Australia are far less than Australian born white male! Not all are trash and nobody has the right to say so. This being said we do need a stronger vetting procedure for this refugee programme especially for men! Women and children should be prioritized rather than men who tend to bring the terror with them!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

We have to live with that kind of terrorism in Australia because our Government has brought some terrorists among refugees. The Somali born terrorist Mohamed Khalif and his family come to Australia in 1990 and his brother was in jail for terrorism charge and radicalized Khalif wife was also hidden somewhere in West Melbourne. Federal Police and ASIO spy agency known him and family, also his relatives were in the ASIO spy agency watch lists but they can't protect that innocent man from terrorist attack. Mohamad Khalif and his family passport were canceled by Government. The Government should let them go abroad and canceled their passport after they left the country. If the Gas cylinders have exploded and then there will be more causalities in the City.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This man and his family are well known to Police/Security Services--- unfortunately there are others of similar bent who are a cause of concern. Unfortunately some refugees---Sudanese for example ---have a rate of offending that far exceeds that of the general population (even white men). Sudanese make up just 0.1% of the Victorian population but 4.8% of aggravated burglary offences. Many of these types of offences involve home invasions with the occupants being assaulted and the homes being trashed and cars stolen. Regrettably it's awkward to speak openly about these serious matters without accusations of "Racism"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Knife kills a few people at most during attack but gun kills 10 - 20 people instantly. That is a big different. It seems Australia has a good gun control law.

There are plenty who do not believe this obvious logic, always arguing that killers without guns will turn to knives instead, without appreciating the far more limited damage that can be inflicted

What most people here fails to recognize, or don't what to admit, is that the killer....in the absence of a gun.... used a knife and a gas-laden truck.....to KILL. Had the truck exploded in a crowd, more people would have been killed.

In the perfect liberal world, the existence of ALL guns would be eliminated. But would that end murders? NO! The criminal or terrorist would resort to substitute weapons.....in this case, a gas-laden truck and knife.

Now, shall we ban knives, barbeque gas cylinders and trucks/SUVs because they were used in this mass murder attempt?

It's not the weapon of choice that needs to be controlled; its the desire and motivation to KILL that needs to be controlled and eliminated. There was a time when murderers and terrorists were immediately executed. Now that may be barbaric to many, but then murder and terrorism is barbaric.

A failure on so many levels. Gross incompetence and dereliction of duty ...

Oh? A failure on so many levels because the police don't have a crystal ball to foresee this act of terrorism act and prevent it? How unrealistic. It's anti-police people like you who damn the police for what they do or don't do or can't do. Okay, so what's your solution?

Humans probably have to evolve to live together. We need to evolve to a higher mentality and have more tolerance, less primitive religions, instincts and customs

Yeah, right. Try telling that to the extremist Islams who screams "Death to all unbelievers and infidels!"

Speaking of extremist Islams, so the Islamic State claimed responsibility for this act. And you guys want to allow free and open immigration to such people?

Sadly there appears to be no way to reason with, or even make some form of peace with these Islamic extremists. So what's left to do ?

That's right, there's no way to reason or make peace with these fanatic Islamic extremists. The only thing they understand is violence.....sheer naked unabashed violence. Like cancer or any kind of malignant disease, you have to eliminate them.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Halwick

You probably misunderstand something.

Knife/car/truck is used for many purposes for daily life, but gun is only used to kill, so it is clearly one purpose. That is a big difference.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Halwick: Oh? A failure on so many levels because the police don't have a crystal ball to foresee this act of terrorism act and prevent it? How unrealistic. It's anti-police people like you who damn the police for what they do or don't do or can't do. Okay, so what's your solution?

You shouldn’t jump to conclusions. My beef is not with the men and women in blue; it’s with those who’ve made their job so much harder.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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