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Australian police say stinging attack in connection with terrorism

SYDNEY – A knife-handling man killed three people, one of them deadly, in the second-largest city of Australia on Friday in an attack police in connection with terrorism.

The attack during the afternoon rush hour brought Melbourne to a halt. Hundreds of people looked from behind barricades while the police tried to catch the attacker.

The police said the man came from a pick-up, which then caught fire and attacked three bystanders with a knife. He also tried to attack the police who appeared on the scene before being shot into the coffin by an officer.

The suspect later died in a hospital. One of the victims also died while the other two were admitted to the hospital.

The police said the attacker's vehicle contained several barbecue gas bottles in the back. A bomb crew made them safe without exploding.

Victoria State Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said that the suspect, originally from Somalia, was known to the police and the incident was treated as terrorism.

"From what we know of that person we treat this as a terrorism incident," Ashton told reporters, adding that the counter-terrorism command of the police was at work, as well as to detectives.

"It is known that he mainly deals with police in relation to family members he has and who are certainly people who interest us, and he is someone who knows the Victorian police and federal intelligence authorities accordingly," he said.

The attack took place on the eve of a busy weekend in Melbourne, with a big horse race scheduled for Saturday and a national football game the next day. Sunday is also the commemoration of the dead, when memorial ceremonies for the First World War are held.

Ashton said the police "made security reviews of these events in light of what happened," but there was "no ongoing threat that we are currently aware of in relation to people surrounding this person."

Premier Scott Morrison condemned the "evil and cowardly attack".

"Australians will never be intimidated by these terrible attacks and we will continue to go our lives and enjoy the liberties that the terrorists despise," he said in a statement.

One witness said that one of the crash victims, presumably a man in his sixties who died later, was stabbed in his face and desperate attempts were made to save him.

"Because he was on his stomach, they turned him around to see if it was okay, he was alive," the witness, Markel Villasin, told the Australian Associated Press.

"He breathed and he was bleeding."

Video of the scene showed a man swinging a knife at two policemen near a burning car before being shot.

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