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3 Stabbed, 1 Dead In Australia In Incident Police Say Is Possible Terrorism

By Emily Sullivan | NPR
Friday, November 9, 2018

Police in Australia shot and killed a knife-wielded assailant who stabbed three people, killing one, in a busy section of Melbourne on Friday.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and authorities say they are investigating it as an act of terrorism.

Witnesses told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that a four-speed utility truck sped down Bourke Street in the southern Australia city's central business district and crashed after missing a tram.

A fire then started in the vehicle, according to Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, who spoke during a news conference.

Australian media identified the deceased suspect as a 31-year-old Somali male. Authorities say he exited the burning vehicle and began stabbing passersby.

Witnesses called the stabbings "random," the ABC reports.

Video of the incident, which some readers might find disturbing, can be seen here.

Police quickly arrived on the scene, Ashton said. The suspect approached a police vehicle and assaulted an officer by punching him through its window.

Two officers got out of the car and attempted to engage him. In video of the incident, the suspect approached the officers baring a large knife, making several attempts to stab them before an officer shot him in the chest. The suspect collapsed.

Ashton said the three victims, all men, and the suspect were transported to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. One of the victims died from his injuries.

According to police, the other two victims, aged 26 and 58, sustained non-life threatening injuries.

The suspect died from his injuries half an hour after arriving at the hospital.

The police found "barbecue style" gas bottles in the vehicle involved in Friday's incident. A bomb squad has since rendered the car safe.

"The one who executed the ramming and stabbing operation in Melbourne (..) is one of the fighters of the Islamic State and he executed the operation in response to (a call) to target the citizens of the coalition," the ISIS news website Amaq said on Friday, according to news.com.au.

In the past, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for some "lone wolf" attacks in which the assailant was later found to have no allegiance to the group.

The suspect has been "known to police mainly in respect to relatives he has that are certainly persons of interest to us," Ashton said.

"For operational matters we now have the counter-terrorism command and the homicide squad dealing with this matter, and there are ongoing investigations being conducted by the counter-terrorism command," he continued.

Authorities say they do not perceive any ongoing threat.

A driver who rammed into pedestrians at a mall close to Friday's incident killed at least four people in January of last year. In December, a different driver in Melbourne drove into more people, injuring at least 19.

In a series of tweets, Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria state, called the incident "an act of terror struck the heart of our city, in a place where past wounds have still not healed."

"To the victims and their loved ones, we offer our prayers, support and deepest sympathies. We won't be defined by this evil act. Victorians will continue to go about their business, together and with resolve," Andrews wrote.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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