One killed several injured in Melbourne gas attack and stabbing rampage

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The attacker set fire to a vehicle laden with gas bottles. (Twitter video screengrab)
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Police work at the crime scene following a stabbing incident in Melbourne on Friday, November 9. (AFP)
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Police confront the attacker shortly before he is shot dead in a busy Melbourne street. (Twitter video screengrab)
Updated 09 November 2018
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One killed several injured in Melbourne gas attack and stabbing rampage

  • The attack during the afternoon rush hour brought central Melbourne to a standstill
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the ‘evil and cowardly attack’

MELBOURNE:  A Somali-born man set fire to a pickup truck laden with gas cylinders in the centre of the Australian city of Melbourne on Friday and stabbed three people, killing one, before he was shot by police in a rampage they called an act of terrorism.

The utility truck carrying barbecue gas cylinders burned on busy Bourke Street just before the evening rush hour as the driver stabbed bystanders and attacked police.
The cylinders did not explode and the fire was put out in 10 minutes, by which point the attack was over.

"We are still trying to piece together whether the vehicle was lit then he got out the car or whether he got out the car and then the vehicle took flame," Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters.
Video posted to Twitter and broadcast on television showed the man swinging a knife at two police officers, while his truck burned in the background.
One of the officers shot the man and he collapsed to the ground clutching his chest, the video showed. Other footage showed two stab victims lying on the ground nearby.
The attacker died in hospital, as did one of the victims, Ashton said. "From what we know of that individual, we are treating this as a terrorism incident," he said of the attacker.

Daesh said it carried out the attack, without providing any evidence. The militant group also claimed responsibility for a deadly siege in the city in 2017 when a Somali man was killed by police after taking a woman hostage.
Police gave no information identifying the Melbourne attacker but Ashton said the man was known to them and intelligence authorities because of family associations.
All of the victims were men, Ashton said. He declined to release their names because police were still in the process of contacting families.
Asked if the man had recently travelled to Syria he said: "That is something we might be able to talk more about tomorrow."
Australia has been on alert for such violence after a Sydney cafe siege in 2014, and its intelligence agencies have stepped up scrutiny, though there was no warning of the latest attack.
Authorities say Australia's vigilance has helped to foil at least a dozen plots, including a plan to attack downtown Melbourne at Christmas in 2016.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement released on Twitter: "Australia will never be intimidated by these appalling attacks."
Ashton 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.
Video posted to social media showed chaotic scenes as bystanders scattered while the attacker fought with police and his victims lay bleeding on the footpath.
One man charged at the tall attacker, wearing a long black shirt, with a shopping trolley just before police drew their weapons.
A witness, Markel Villasin, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio: "Bystanders were yelling out 'just shoot him, just shoot him'." They did.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the attack was "an evil, terrifying thing that's happened in our city".
Warning text messages were sent after the attack and police sealed off the downtown area, usually busy with shoppers and diners on a Friday evening. Some cordons were lifted later, though the immediate crime scene would be sealed until Saturday, police said.
Memories remain fresh of a fatal but not terror-related attack on the same street last year, in which a man drove his car at pedestrians at high speed, killing six people and wounding about 30. That prompted the city to install hundreds of security bollards. The driver is currently on trial.
In December 2014, two hostages were killed during a 17-hour siege by a "lone wolf" gunman, inspired by Daesh militants, in a cafe in Sydney.


AU leaders agree reforms to reduce donor dependence

Updated 18 November 2018
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AU leaders agree reforms to reduce donor dependence

  • Heads of state and ministers had gathered at the body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa for what was seen as a last-ditch attempt to push through reforms

ADDIS ABABA: African Union leaders on Sunday finally agreed measures compelling members states to pay their dues as part of a drive to reform a body often seen as toothless and donor-dependent.
Heads of state and ministers had gathered at the body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa for what was seen as a last-ditch attempt to push through reforms that have been mulled for nearly two years.
The AU in 2016 charged its chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame with getting reforms passed, but observers have said time is running out because Egypt — which is set to assume the chairmanship — is thought to oppose aspects of the agenda.
In proposals unveiled last year, Kagame envisioned a more narrowly focused AU headed by a powerful commission whose bills were covered by its 55 member states rather than foreign donors.
Although not all his reforms were passed, Kagame welcomed the progress made at the two-day summit.
Their effect would be “felt for decades” to come, he said.
“We have done our part to continue the journey, and I expect the coming... chairperson of the African Union to continue with the same momentum and the same progress,” he added.
The majority of the bloc’s 55 member states rejected Kagame’s plan to give the head of the AU commission — the body’s executive branch — the power to appoint their own deputy and commissioners.
This was seen as a move to make the administration more accountable to their leader.
However members backed moves to streamline the body while bringing in revenue from member states and sanctioning those who don’t pay their dues.
The AU currently depends on foreign donors, who in 2019 will pay for 54 percent of a total budget of $681.5 million (596 million euros).
The AU also agreed to reduce the number of commissions to six from eight, with peace and security merged with political affairs and trade and industry merged with economic affairs, AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told journalists.
On Saturday the AU launched a fund dedicated to paying for responses to crises on the continent before they evolve into full-blown conflicts.
The Peace Fund is part of the AU’s proposals to wean itself off donor money, the centerpiece of which is a 0.2 percent import levy meant to finance the body which 24 countries are in the process of implementing.
But the US has opposed the duty, arguing it violates World Trade Organization rules.
The US mission to the AU issued a statement saying it supports the AU’s self-funding goals but opposed “trade measures” to achieve them.
“We are proud of our partnership with the AU and will continue to work with the AU... to find impactful ways to bring peace and security to the continent,” the statement sent to AFP said.
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