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Melbourne Car Attack Was Not Connected to Terrorism, Police Say

A second man was also arrested at the scene, after the police found him filming the crash and carrying a bag of knives. Mr. Patton said the man remained in custody for questioning but that he was not believed to be connected to the attack.

The attack happened just blocks from a pedestrian mall where a driver ran down eight people in January, killing six and injuring many others before being shot and taken into custody. The authorities said the driver had been fleeing the police after stabbing his brother.

After that crash, the police installed bollards in various pedestrian areas in central Melbourne to prevent similar incidents.

A witness to the Thursday attack, Federica Viezzoli, 40, described the vehicle “smashing into people” after it turned onto crowded Flinders Street, just as the evening commute home was beginning.

“They basically were just bumped into the air, a couple of them,” she said of the victims. “I heard the noise of bones crushing.”

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“Everyone in Melbourne would have crossed that intersection at one time or another,” said Adam Bandt, a member of Parliament from the city. Credit Asanka Brendon Ratnayake for The New York Times

The attack initially raised speculation about a connection to terrorism, given the number of recent vehicular assaults inspired by the Islamic State. In October, a man drove his truck onto a bike path along the West Side Highway in Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring 12. Investigators said he was inspired to commit the attack by Islamic State propaganda videos.

Terror attacks using vehicles as weapons have also claimed victims in Nice, France, Berlin, Barcelona and London, among other places.

In Melbourne, video taken Thursday by a bystander, Lachlan Vella, after the S.U.V. came to a stop showed police officers in tactical gear using plastic ties to restrain the suspect.

In the video, the front half of the S.U.V. is severely damaged, and both airbags are seen to have deployed. A slick of liquid appears to be leaking from the car. Another person, possibly a female victim, is briefly seen lying in the street being attended to by officers.

“Everyone in Melbourne would have crossed that intersection at one time or another,” said Adam Bandt, a member of Parliament from Melbourne. “People are in shock and probably will be for some time.”

Commander Russell Barrett of the Victoria Police said access to the site of the attack would be restricted for a “considerable period of time,” and he and other officials urged people to avoid the area.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and others affected.

Source: NYT > World

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