World

Australian siege being treated as terrorist attack

MELBOURNE A fatal shootout claimed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was being treated as a terrorist attack by Australian police yesterday, as the prime minister condemned it as "shocking and cowardly".

A man of Somali background was killed in a gun battle with police when he opened fire following an hour-long standoff after taking a female escort hostage at a serviced apartment block in Melbourne on Monday evening.

It is alleged 29-year-old Yacqub Khayre, linked to a 2009 terror plot targeting an Australian army barracks, had first murdered a Chinese-born Australian man working as a receptionist in the foyer.

STATEMENTS

Police said he made statements about Al-Qaeda and called a local television station making similar comments, reportedly: "This is for ISIS, this is for Al-Qaeda."

The authorities labelled the attack as a terrorism incident but added that investigations were still ongoing into whether it was planned or random.

"We're not seeing anything indicating that he's got some message from overseas to do this at all but, again, early days," said Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton.

"We've got material that's seized. We'll go through that and work it out."

He said it was possible that Khayre may have been attempting to lure police by taking the escort - reportedly a sex worker - hostage. - AFP

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