Car that hit crowd in Australia’s Melbourne was deliberate act, police say

MELBOURNE — A car was deliberately driven into pedestrians in the Australian city of Melbourne on Thursday, injuring up to 14 people, though the motive was not known, police said.

“We believe based on what we have seen that it is a deliberate act,” Victorian Police commander Russell Barrett told media in Melbourne. “The motivations are unknown.”

The driver and a second man had been arrested, police said.

Police did not suggest a possible motive for the incident, which had chilling echoes of several attacks by Islamist militants in various parts of the world over the past year or two.

The Victoria State ambulance service said it had taken 13 people to hospital, including a pre-school child with a serious head injury.

“The driver of the vehicle and a second man have been arrested and are in police custody,” police said in a statement, adding that a crime scene had been established.

In January, four people were killed and more than 20 injured when a man deliberately drove into pedestrians at a spot just a few hundred meters away from the Thursday incident.

Image: A car crashes into pedestrians in Melbourne Image: A car crashes into pedestrians in Melbourne

A wrecked car sits at the scene after a vehicle crashed into pedestrians in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday. Joe Castro / EPA

Police said the January incident was not terrorism-related.

Major streets in Australian cities have been packed with holiday shoppers this week.

The incident took place on Flinders street, a major road that runs alongside the Yarra River.

A Reuters witness said a white sports utility vehicle came to a halt at a busy intersection where commuters enter and exit the busy city Flinders Street railway station.

“It’s delayed traffic, trains, trams, everyone’s getting diverted,” the Reuters witness said, who saw four police cars, two paramedic vehicles, one ambulance and a fire truck at the scene.