Belfast Telegraph

Irish woman, 25, among those injured after car hit pedestrians in Melbourne

The driver of a car driven at pedestrians in Melbourne, injuring more than a dozen people including an Irish citizen, attributed his actions to the "treatment of Muslims", police said.

However, officers stressed no terrorist links had been found during their initial investigations.

Some 19 people were wounded, three of whom remain in a critical condition, after a car was driven at pedestrians outside Flinders Street station on Thursday.

The area surrounding the major transport hub was busy with Christmas shoppers during the first week of the school summer holidays.

Police have said the suspect, reportedly named Saeed Noori, a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan heritage, had a history of mental illness and drug abuse.

Nine of the victims were foreign nationals and a mong them was a 25-year-old Irish woman who is in a stable condition in hospital, police said.

Two men from South Korea, aged 61 and 67, are in a critical condition while a four-year-old South Korean boy, the youngest victim, is in a stable condition.

A Chinese national aged 24, an Indian national aged 45 and a Venezuelan national aged 40 - all men - also remain in hospital.

An Italian man aged 25 and a man from New Zealand aged 43 were taken to hospital but have since been discharged.

The oldest victim, an 83-year-old Australian man from the city, is also in a critical condition, police said.

The suspect was admitted to hospital in the wake of the incident but has now been discharged and is in custody awaiting questioning once "medically cleared".

Victoria Police acting commissioner Shane Patton said officers had spoken to him in hospital as investigators carried out search warrants and also spoke to his family on Thursday evening.

"During that ( questioning ) he made utterances, talked about dreams and voices but nonetheless did attribute his actions he said to the way that Muslim people are being treated, so based on that we haven't ruled anything out," he said.

"Obviously we've done search warrants last night and we haven't found anything at all to indicate his linkage or involvement with any type of extremism, with any terrorist organisation or anything of a terrorist nature.

"So given the mental illness background and everything we need to step carefully and the investigation is ongoing."

The suspect was known to the police, having been convicted of an assault in 2010, and is understand to have been on a mental health plan and receiving treatment.

Witnesses described seeing people "flying everywhere" as the car was driven at speed along Flinders Street at around 4.30pm (5.30am GMT).

Lachlan Read told the Herald Sun the incident lasted about 15 seconds.

"It was bang, bang, bang. It was just one after the other.

"The last bang the car stopped," the 20-year-old said. "There were bodies on the ground and people running up to them - it was mayhem."

A 24-year-old man who was arrested after he was allegedly found with illegal items during the initial police operation was interviewed and released, with police confirming the two men were not linked.

Earlier this year five people died in Melbourne when a car hit pedestrians, but police said the January incident was not terror-related.

Meanwhile, there has been a spate of attacks in major cities in Europe and the US in recent years in which terrorists have used vehicles as a weapon again innocent people.

Eighty-six people were killed in Nice in July 2016 when a lorry was driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day.

Twelve people died in December last year when a truck was driven at crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin.

Four pedestrians and a police officer were killed by Khalid Masood in the Westminster Bridge attack in March.

In June, eight people were killed and 48 injured when three terrorists ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge then went on a knife rampage in Borough Market.

Thirteen people were killed when a van was driven down Barcelona's Las Ramblas in August, and in October, eight died in a truck attack in New York.

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