Australia: 19 wounded in car-ramming attack

Two men drove their truck into a crowd in Melbourne in what police believe was “a deliberate act.”  

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

At least 19 people were injured in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday when two men deliberately mowed their vehicle through a crowd in what appears to have been an Islamic terror attack.

Victorian state police said in a statement that the driver of the vehicle and a second man were in police custody after the incident, which occurred on Flinders Street in the city’s central business district, when the area was busy with Christmas shoppers.

Police said at a news conference that they believe it was “a deliberate act,” but they do not know the motivation behind the attack at this time.

Sky News Australia reported the driver of the white Suzuki SUV was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed after his vehicle crashed into a post by a cable car stop.

Media reports said 14 people have been taken to hospitals, several in serious condition, including a pre-school aged child in serious condition with head injuries.

The motive of the incident was not clear immediately, but a signs at the scene indicate it was a terror attack. The alleged terrorists appeared to be Middle Eastern and wearing long beards on social media photos.

Read  WATCH: Lebanese journalist blasts Hezbollah, 'I want my son to live'

Australian police say the driver of a vehicle is an Australian citizen of Afghan decent who has a known history of drug use and mental health issues.

They added that the 32-year-old driver was known to state police on “historical assault matters.”

Witnesses told Sky News the car ran a red light, sped up and struck pedestrians in an area with a 40-kilometer (25-mile)-per-hour speed limit.

“As it (the car) approached this intersection … it just mowed everybody down, people were flying everywhere,” one witness told radio station 3AW.

Australia has previously been hit by Islamic terrorists, and this incident comes at a time when vehicle-related terror attacks have been on the rise.