Melbourne’s CBD has been rocked by a terror incident this afternoon after a man who crashed his four wheel drive in Bourke Street, which then went up in flames then attacked and stabbed people in the area at around 4.20pm. Three people are now in hospital being treated for stab wounds, one is now confirmed to be deceased.
The video below shows the perpetrator attempting to stab Victoria Police officers who was subsequently shot in the chest, taken into custody in a critical condition under heavy police guard.
The city is in lock down with people told to stay in their offices and avoid the CBD area. Eyewitnesses are being told to go to West Melbourne Police station. They are not looking for another suspect at this stage.
Victoria Police first released the following statement:
Victoria Police at a press conference at 6.05pm said there is no known links to terrorism at this stage but were keeping an open mind.
It is the third major incident in Melbourne’s CBD in the past two years after the Bourke Street rampage in January 2017 and the Flinders Street rampage in December 2017. They have led to bollards being installed at pedestrian areas in the CBD.
This terror incident comes right in the middle of the Victorian election campaign with early voting set to commence on Monday. Law and order and public safety has been an issue in Melbourne for the past year and will likely now be front and centre in the final two weeks to polling day on Saturday November 24.
UPDATE: Two people have now died from stab wounds. The perpetrator who was shot in the chest by police when he tried to stab them has now died in hospital. He was known to ASIO and had links to known convicted terror plotters. He was of Somalian background and had links to North African terror organizations.
The four wheel drive which exploded when it crashed was armed with gas cylinders which is why eye witnesses reported multiple explosions. Victoria Police are now treating it as a terrorism incident with the counter-terrorism command being brought in as well as the homicide squad.
Police Commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed early media reports at a press conference with Premier Daniel Andrews and Police Minister Lisa Neville at 8.30pm tonight.
The perpetrator has been named Hassan Shire Ali who was inspired by Islamic State and had his passport cancelled in 2015 due to fears he planned to fight in the Syrian Civil War. The man who was stabbed by Ali after his car exploded (which was armed with gas cylinders) and died at the scene has been identified as Sisto Malaspina, one of the co-owners of Pellegrinis, a famous Bourke street coffee house.