Australian says man from Somalia behind Melbourne stabbing

World
By Associated Press , Australia
Photograph: James Ross/EPA

SYDNEY, Australia — A knife-wielding man stabbed three people, one fatally, in Australia's second-largest city on Friday in an attack police linked to terrorism.

The attack during the afternoon rush hour brought central Melbourne to a standstill. Hundreds of people watched from behind barricades as police tried to apprehend the attacker.

Police said the man got out of a pickup 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.

The suspect died later at a hospital. One of the victims also died, while the two others were hospitalized.

Police said the attacker's vehicle contained several barbecue gas cylinders in the back. A bomb squad rendered them safe without any exploding.

Victoria state police Commissioner Graham Ashton said the suspect, who was 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 terrorist incident," Ashton said, adding that the police counterterrorism 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 known to both Victorian police and the Federal intelligence authorities," he said. He did not elaborate.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released through its Aamaq media arm but provided no evidence.

It said the man was an Islamic State fighter and had responded to ISIL calls for attacks in countries that are part of the international coalition fighting the militants in Syria and Iraq.

ISIL, which has suffered heavy battlefield setbacks in the past year, often claims attacks without any clear connection.