Australia

DELIBERATE BUT ‘NOT TERROR’: 3 dead, at least 20 injured after car plows into crowd in Melbourne

Jan. 20, 2017: Police and emergency services gather at the scene after a car hit pedestrians in Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne, Australia.

Jan. 20, 2017: Police and emergency services gather at the scene after a car hit pedestrians in Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne, Australia.  (Luke Costin/AAP via AP)

Australian authorities said Friday that a man intentionally plowed his car into pedestrians in a mall in Melbourne during lunch hour, killing at least three and injuring at least 20, but said terrorism was not a factor.

The 26-year-old driver of the maroon-colored car was described by witnesses as appearing Middle Eastern. One tourist told Melbourne’s Herald-Sun newspaper that Arabic music was blaring from the car.

Reuters reported that authorities had hit the vehicle, shooting the driver in the arm before pulling the man out of the car and making
the arrest. Officials reportedly said that prior to the incident the suspect was wanted for a stabbing that occurred earlier on Friday. 

A video posted on social media captured the moment the car began driving in circles in the intersection before continuing on toward Bourke Street.

Video footage shot from a news helicopter showed several heavily armed police officers standing near the area where the incident occurred. Several officers could be seen standing over a man lying on the sidewalk, clad only in his underwear, his hands apparently handcuffed behind his back. Police could also be seen examining a heavily damaged red car at the scene.

"A male deliberately drove into pedestrians in the Bourke Street mall, and we currently have three deceased and at least 20 injuries,'' authorities told reporters, according to Reuters. "We have the offender in custody. There is no further threat to the public at this stage. I can also confirm that this is not a CT (counter-terrorism) related incident."

The Australian Open tennis championship is currently being held in the city. Officials said the event was continuing as normal. The incident comes amid global concern over extremists using vehicles to strike crowds, following truck attacks in Berlin and Nice, France last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click here for more from Reuters.