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Melbourne Stabbing Spree Leaves Two Dead, Including Attacker

Melbourne Stabbing Spree Leaves Two Dead, Including Attacker
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One person was killed after a man began attacking pedestrians on a busy street in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday. The attacker, shot by the police, later died in a hospital.CreditCreditWilliam West/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MELBOURNE, Australia — A knife-wielding man was fatally shot by the police in Melbourne on Friday after he stabbed three people, killing one, in what the authorities described as a terrorist attack.

Witnesses said the man emerged from a vehicle, which then burst into flames, shortly after 4 p.m. The police said there were gas cylinders in the vehicle. The man then began to attack pedestrians on Bourke Street, a busy shopping strip in Melbourne’s city center.

When officers arrived at the scene, they were confronted with the man brandishing a bloody knife. A video of the confrontation, which circulated on social media, shows a civilian bystander trying to help the police by repeatedly pushing a shopping cart at the man.

“Someone screamed, ‘I think he has a knife,’ and I turned around and saw the car on fire,” said Meegan May, who was a passenger on a tram that passed the scene of the attack.

Officers ultimately shot the man in the chest and arrested him. The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, was taken to a hospital, where he died about 30 minutes later, the police said.

“We are treating this as a terrorism incident,” Graham Ashton, chief commissioner of the Victoria Police, said at a news conference. He said the Somali-born man had been known to the police.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters reported, though the group provided no evidence.

The names and ages of the victims, who were all men, have not yet been released.

Knives are the weapon most commonly used in homicides in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a government agency. In 2015, the most recent year from which comprehensive data is available, 30 percent of all murders in Australia involved knives, as did 26 percent of attempted murders.

The incident occurred less than two years after an attack on the same street, in which a man barreled his car into a crowd, killing six pedestrians and injuring at least 30 others. His trial is underway this week in the Victorian Supreme Court.

“We will not as a city be defined by this act of evil,” Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, said of the attack Friday. “We’ll go about our business this weekend and every weekend.”

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