One person has been killed and two others wounded as a knife-wielding man went on a rampage in a busy street in central Melbourne. Police have opened a counter-terrorism probe following the assault.
Victoria Police responded to a major incident on Friday afternoon on Bourke Street in Melbourne, Australia. The officers were initially called in over reports of a fire, but when they arrived and got out of the car, they were “confronted by a male brandishing a knife and threatening them,” Superintendent David Clayton told reporters.
The perpetrator was known to police and the federal intelligence authorities, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told media.
“What we know so far about the individual… from what we know we are treating this as a terrorism incident,” Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told media. Elaborating on the details about the man’s identity, officials said he came to Australia from Somalia in the 1990s, yet stopped short of giving more information.
The suspect’s family is also “well known” to authorities from a “terrorism perspective.”
It is reported that the attacker burned a car before starting his knife attack. Some witnesses claim they saw a car driving at high speed and crashing after missing a tram, according to ABC. Others reportedly saw the suspected driver getting out of the car and throwing “something like a bomb” inside before it caught fire.
There is still no clear understanding of how the fire in the car started, though police revealed the attacker had “barbecue-style gas cylinders” inside the vehicle.