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Authorities Say Melbourne Car-Ramming Incident Unrelated to Terrorism


In this photo made video from the Australian Broadcasting Corp., a white SUV vehicle is stopped after allegedly striking pedestrians, Dec. 21, 20217, in Melbourne, Australia. Local media say over a dozen people have been injured after a car drove into pedestrians on a sidewalk in central Melbourne.

Authorities in Melbourne, Australia say the man arrested for injuring 19 people when he deliberately drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians has no known links to terrorism.

Shane Patton, the acting chief commissioner for Victoria State police, told reporters Thursday suspect was a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan descent. He said the man does have a known history of drug use and mental health issues.

"He’s a person who we’ve known to Victoria Police, he has historical assault matters. He is not currently on any bail or any corrections order or anything of the like and he has a history of drug use as well as mental health issue," Patton said, adding that "We don’t at this time have any evidence or any intelligence to indicate there’s a connection with terrorism."

The suspect was arrested at the scene by an off-duty policeman after he crashed the sport utility vehicle into a signal pole outside a cable car stop.

Patton said a 24-year-old man who was spotted recording the incident with his cellphone camera was also arrested at the scene. He said the second man was carrying a bag of knives.

The incident occurred on a major road in downtown Melbourne as pedestrians were doing last-minute Christmas shopping. One witness told a Melbourne radio station she saw "people flying everywhere" as the SUV plowed through crowd.

Police and emergency services attend to the scene of an incident involving a vehicle on Flinders Street, as seen from Swanson Street, in Melbourne, Australia, Dec. 21, 2017.
Police and emergency services attend to the scene of an incident involving a vehicle on Flinders Street, as seen from Swanson Street, in Melbourne, Australia, Dec. 21, 2017.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews, who described the incident as "an act of evil, and an act of cowardice," said four of the 19 victims are in critical condition. One of the victims is a toddler who suffered a serious head injury.

Thursday's incident is the second of its kind to take place this year in Australia's second-largest city. Six people were killed when a car drove into a group of pedestrians back in January.

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