Aussie police treat Melbourne stabbing attack as terrorist incident

Nellie Chapman
November 11, 2018

Australian police on Friday said a Somali man who stabbed three people in the city of Melbourne on Friday drove a auto laden with gas cylinders which caught fire and that they are treating the attack as terrorism.

Shire Ali, who moved to Australia with his family from Somalia in the 1990s had a criminal history for cannabis use, theft and driving offences, Ashton said.

A burnt out vehicle is seen on Bourke Street in Melbourne, Friday.

"As (officers) got out of the vehicle they were confronted by a male brandishing a knife and threatening them", Victoria Police Supt David Clayton said.

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

The two wounded stabbing victims were in the hospital.

A witness said one of the stabbing victims - believed to be a man in his 60s who later died - was stabbed in the face, and desperate efforts were made to save him.

Asked about what the attacker had been planning, Ashton referred to the gas cylinders in the auto and said: "You could make certain assumptions from that".

Victoria police declined to comment when contacted about the ISIS claim.

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Police worked through the night and don't believe there are any ongoing threats to the public, he said.

The suspect drove to the Bourke Street area at around 4.10pm yesterday and deliberately started a fire in his vehicle before fleeing it.

"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. "We're saying it was more from an inspiration perspective". Australia has been on heightened alert from 2015 for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East.

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

Police have cordoned off a section of the central business district in Australia's second-largest city, but are not looking for other suspects.

A handful of videos and images uploaded to social media appear to show the man attempting to stab police before he is shot.

An unnamed man who tried to topple the attacker by ramming a shopping trolley at him told the Seven Network "I've ran and threw the trolley straight at him, got him, but didn't get him down".

"This is an evil and terrifying thing that happened in our city and state today, and we condemn it", he said. Shire Ali stabbed bystanders and attacked police while his utility truck carrying barbecue gas cylinders burned on busy Bourke Street.

A driver who rammed into pedestrians at a mall close to Friday's incident killed at least four people in January of past year.

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