A man who mowed down 19 pedestrians in Melbourne, half of them foreigners, said he carried out the attack to avenge “mistreatment of Muslims,” Australia said Friday, while stressing it had still found no link to any terrorist group.
Three people remained critically ill in hospital after the Australian-Afghan driver ploughed through a busy downtown intersection in his car on Thursday in what authorities said was a “deliberate act.”
The 32-year-old, who came to Australia as a refugee, has a history of drug abuse and mental problems, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reiterated that officials had established no terrorism link “at this stage.”
“To be attacked like this, in the middle of one of our great cities, is a shocking event, a shocking crime,” Turnbull said.
“He has said, in a number of what the police are describing as utterings, that he attributed his actions to perceived mistreatment of Muslims.”
“But at this stage, because investigations are continuing, apart from that statement, there are no known links to any political issues, or any links to
extremist groups, and I am advised at the moment that no terrorism link has been identified.”
But he added that “a mass of material” was being investigated and “nothing should be ruled out.”
The man, who was wrestled from the car by an off-duty police officer, was due to undergo a psychiatric assessment later Friday and is yet to be formally interviewed.
He was widely identified in the Australian media as Saeed Noori.