Melbourne: Australian police confirmed Tuesday that a shooting and hostage situation in Melbourne which killed two people, including the gunman, was an act of "terrorism", after the Islamic State claimed responsibility.
The gunman identified as Yacqub Khayre was shot dead on Monday following a stand-off with police which lasted for more than an hour at serviced apartments on Bay Street in Brighton, 11 kilometres south-east of Melbourne's central business district.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said Khayre was known to police and had a long criminal history. Khayre was charged and acquitted by a jury over a plot to attack the Holsworthy Army barracks in Sydney in 2009.
Three co-accused were found guilty of planning the terrorist attack for Australia's military involvement action in West Asia.
Ashton was quoted as saying by the ABC that the siege was being treated as a "terrorism incident". "He has a long criminal history with us, but also from what we're piecing together comments he made related to Islamic State and Al-Qaeda certainly for us put this in the terrorism category," he said, adding that, Khayre was released on parole in November last year.
"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," Ashton added.
"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." ABC had reported that the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the siege through a published statement via Amaq news agency which is affiliated to the terror group.
It said the attack in Melbourne was carried out by one of its "soldiers". "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," the statement said.
Monday night, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp said police were also probing reports of a phone call made to the Channel 7 newsroom by someone referring to the Islamic State.
"That's all part of the investigation at this point in time as to who made that phone call, but we will certainly be working with Channel 7 in relation to that phone call," he said.
The siege began after emergency services responded to reports of an explosion at the apartment building at 4 pm in the evening.
Police discovered the body of a man with gunshot wounds in the foyer.
Ashton confirmed the man worked at the apartment building, and said he was "at the wrong place, at the wrong time".
Dozens of gunshots rang out just after 6 pm in Bay Street with crowds of people fleeing and taking refuge in a nearby supermarket.
Three police officers were shot by the gunman during the shoot-out. A woman in her twenties who was held hostage by Khayre was rescued.
Published Date: Jun 06, 2017 07:16 am | Updated Date: Jun 06, 2017 07:16 am