Hostage situation in Melbourne being treated as act of terror

Hostage situation in Melbourne being treated as act of terror

A gunman who killed a man and took a woman hostage before dying in a police shootout had been acquitted of plotting a terror attack at a Sydney army base years earlier


A police officer stands guard outside the serviced apartments where the incident took place.
Photo: EPA

A gunman killed a man and took a woman hostage before dying in a police shootout also wouded three police officers.

The siege on Monday at an apartment building in a Melbourne suburb was being treated as an act of terror, but Victoria state Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the gunman appeared to have acted alone and not as part of any ongoing plot or threat.

“There is nothing that we’ve found thus far that would suggest to us that this was anything that was ... planned or done in concert with others,” Ashton said.

The gunman, Yacqub Khayre, 29, was one of two men acquitted by a jury in 2010 of plotting a suicide attack in Sydney. Three people were convicted of conspiracy. Police stopped that plot before it could be carried out.

Khayre, a Somali refugee, served prison sentences for arson and violent crimes unrelated to extremism before being paroled in November, Ashton said.

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On Monday, Khayre booked an appointment with an escort in an apartment building in Brighton and arrived carrying a shotgun, sparking a 2-hour siege.

Police were called after neighbours heard the shotgun fire as Khayre killed a Chinese-born Australian man employed by the escort agency in the lobby.

Khayre then called police to say he had a hostage in an apartment and would harm her if police intervened. They tried to negotiate with him before Khayre walked out of the building firing the shotgun.

One police officer was shot in the neck and ear and two officers suffered wounds to their hands, but none of the wounds were life-threatening. The woman was not harmed.

Ashton said there was nothing to link the violence with a van and knife attacks in London in which three assailants killed seven people.

Police did not regard the Islamic State group’s claim of responsibility for the Melbourne violence as evidence that it was planned.


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