A vehicle plowed into more than a dozen horrified pedestrians in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday, in what police called a “deliberate” and “cowardly” act.
The incident took place at a busy intersection on Flinders and Elizabeth streets, an area popular with tourists in the Central Business District of Australia’s second-biggest city, media outlets report.
Police said the driver was a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan decent who has a known history of drug use and mental health issues. The man was known to police for historical minor assault and traffic offenses.
Police also detained a 24-year-old man at the scene who was filming the incident and had a bag with knifes.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews stated, “This is horrific. It’s evil,” and went on to say “We are not defined by these sorts of incidents.”
In January, four people were killed and more than 20 injured when a man drove into pedestrians just a few hundred feet away from Thursday’s attack. That was not determined to be a terrorist attack according to Australian authorities.
Australia has been on a high national threat level since 2015, citing the likelihood of attacks by Australians radicalized in Iraq and Syria.
Two hostages were killed during a 17-hour siege by a “lone wolf” gunman, inspired by Islamic State militants, in a cafe in Sydney in December 2014.
While some media outlets are covering this story as a “mental health” issue, recent history shows a different picture.
Here is a recent list of “known” terror related attacks in Australia:
– 2014 Endeavour Hills Stabbings
– 2014 Sydney Hostage Crisis
– 2015 Parramatta Shooting
– 2016 Minto Stabbing Attack
– 2017 Queanbeyan Stabbing Attacks
– 2017 Brighton Siege
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews stated, “I’m confident that we will go about our business and we will celebrate Christmas,” he said, though adding, “we will all, I think, spare a thought for those that have been touched and, indeed, forever changed by the evil and cowardly scenes on Flinders Street today.”
Just last month Ali Khalif Shire Ali, 20, known to his friends as Ali Shire, was charged with preparing to commit a terrorist attack and collecting documents to facilitate a terrorist act.
Victoria Police, who tracked Mr. Shire for much of the past year, say they discovered he planned to shoot “as many people as he could” in an attack.