A gunman shot dead by Victorian police on Monday night in Melbourne called Channel Seven and said “This is for IS, this is for Al Qaeda”.
Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the attack.
Two men died and three policemen were wounded by gunfire following a 2-hour siege in which a woman was taken hostage at an apartment in the upmarket bayside suburb of Melbourne yesterday.
The second man, who was a receptionist of the serviced apartments building, was found dead in the foyer at around 4pm on Monday. The woman taken hostage was unharmed.
Police are now treating the siege as a “terrorism incident”.
Emergency services were initially called to the apartment block in Bay Street at around 4pm following reports of an explosion. A woman called triple-O a short time later to say there was a hostage situation and a deceased man, police say.
The gunman began firing at police as he attempted to leave the building just before 6pm and was shot dead.
Police deputy commissioner Andrew Crisp said officers did not speak to the gunmen during the siege.
The Herald Sun named the gunman as Somali refugee Yacqub Khayre, who was on the radar of counter-terrorism police but considered “a low-risk person of interest”.
He was believed to be on parole following a violent offence.
Last night around 20 minutes before the gunman was killed, a man called the Channel 7’s Melbourne newsroom. Chief of staff Nicole Bland, who took the call, said she could hear a woman screaming in the background as the man declared “This is for IS”.
Police say the call came from the apartment complex.
This morning Islamic State’s news agency, Amaq, claimed credit, saying “The attack in Melbourne, Australia was carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State in response to the call for targeting the subjects of the coalition states”.
While police commissioner Graham Ashton said Khayre’s actions were being treated as a terror-related, he said the incident is “the sort of thing” ISIS would jump up and claim responsibility for it.
“From what we’re piecing together comments [Khayre] made related to ISIS and Al Qaeda certainly for us put this in the terrorism category,” he said.
“We don’t yet know if this was something he was really planning or whether it was just an ad hoc decision that he’s made just to go off tap like this.”
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the terror attack underlines the need for Australia to “remain vigilant, never to be deterred, always defiant in the face of Islamist terrorism”.
He thanked the Victorian police for their “decisive and courageous intervention” to keep Australians safe.
Turnbull also questioned about Khayre had been able to be granted parole, when he was a known offender with “a long record of violence” and had “connections, at least in the past, with violent extremism”.
“Australians need to be assured that people who are a threat to their safety are not being released on parole,” he said.
“With every development in the sick pathology of terrorism, we have to learn from it.”
He said local authorities are “absolutely” concerned that copycat attackers could stage similar incidents, although the terror threat level has not been increased from “probable”, but is under constant review.
“The advice that we have from the Victoria police.. is that this terrorist attack was not part of a coordinated attack.”
For it the ben raised higher police would have to have “significant” intelligence of another attack, which they do not have.
There is no suggestion that this matter will expand any further. Search warrants are continuing to be conducted at the attacker’s home and the crime scene is still being secured.
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