Australian hostage drama that left two people dead an 'act of terror': authorities

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-06 09:46:04|Editor: Zhou Xin
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by Matt Goss

MELBOURNE, June 6 (Xinhua) -- An incident in Melbourne which left two people dead is being treated as an act of terror, police confirmed on Tuesday.

Graham Ashton, Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, said that officers would investigate if Yacqub Khayre, 29, was trying to lure police into a deadly ambush on Monday night when he shot an apartment worker dead and took a woman hostage.

Khayre was killed by police on Monday night after a prolonged siege which began when officers discovered the body of a man, in the foyer of an apartment building in Brighton, 11 kilometers south-east of Melbourne.

Shortly after the discovery of the body, a woman called emergency services saying she was being held hostage by Khayre, prompting a specialist police operation.

Khayre emerged from the apartment building around 6:00 p.m. and started shooting at police, injuring three officers, before he was killed.

Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the incident on Tuesday, saying Khayre was "one of its soldiers."

However, Ashton said that the evidence indicated that Khayre had planned and coordinated the attack on his own.

"(Khayre) has a long criminal history with us, but also from what we're piecing together comments he made related to IS and Al Qaeda certainly for us to put this in the terrorism category," Ashton told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"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."

Ashton confirmed that the man had been let out of prison, where he was serving time for violent offences, on parole in November 2016.

"He has recently done some jail time, he got out late last year and has been on parole at the time of this offending last night," he said.

"This person wasn't someone around which we had major concerns at this time, and we had nothing to suggest (he was planning) what he did suddenly decide to do."

A man who called a Melbourne television station's newsroom claiming to be Khayre as the siege was ongoing said "this is for IS and this is for al-Qaeda."

Ashton said police had not yet confirmed the source of the call but that it would form part of a larger investigation into the series of events.

Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's Prime Minister, said that he was shocked by the events.

"This terrorist attack by a known criminal, a man who was only recently released on parole, is a shocking, cowardly crime," Turnbull said on Tuesday.

"It is a terrorist attack and it underlines the need for us to be constantly vigilant, never to be deterred, always defiant, in the face of Islamist terrorism."

Victoria Police confirmed on Tuesday that all three officers hurt in the incident were expected to make full recoveries.