Melbourne knife attacker inspired by Islamic State, police say

Friday’s attack began just before the evening rush hour and lasted only minutes. Shire Ali stabbed bystanders and attacked police while his utility truck carrying barbecue gas cylinders burned on busy Bourke Street.

The cylinders did not explode and the fire was put out in 10 minutes, by which point the attack was over, though not before one man was fatally stabbed.

Police said he was a 74-year-old man who worked in the city, but did not release his name. Local media identified him as a restaurant owner.

“This shouldn’t happen in a city like Melbourne,” one witness who had returned to the scene on Saturday told Reuters, crying. “I just want to forget it,” she said.

Video posted to Twitter and broadcast on television showed Shire Ali swinging a knife at two police officers, while the truck burned in the background, before he collapsed when one shot him in the chest.

Victoria state police said counter-terrorism investigators were searching two properties in suburban Melbourne in connection with the attack, but there was no immediate word on what the searches yielded.

At one, a modest one-story brick house on the city’s western fringe, armed officers wearing masks stood guard outside.

Bourke Street also reopened on Saturday morning, and a Reuters reporter said there was an increased police presence in the area.

A staunch U.S. ally, Australia has been on alert for such violence after a Sydney cafe siege in 2014, and its intelligence agencies have stepped up scrutiny. Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said there was no warning of the latest attack.

He said there was no longer a threat to the public, but that security would be boosted at horse races and Remembrance Day memorials over the weekend.

Authorities say Australia’s vigilance has helped foil at least a dozen plots, including a plan to attack Melbourne at Christmas in 2016 and a plan to blow up a flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi using a bomb disguised as a meat mincer.

Two hostages were killed during the 17-hour Sydney cafe siege by a “lone wolf” gunman who was inspired by Islamic State militants.

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