A young British woman died and a man was critically injured when a French national allegedly stabbed three people while saying “Allahu Akbar” at an Australian backpacker’s hostel, police said Wednesday.
Police are investigating the murder, which occurred late Tuesday in Home Hill, a rural town south of Townsville in far north Queensland state, but could not say whether the alleged attacker had been radicalised.
The motivations behind the stabbings, which left a 30-year-old British man in a critical condition and a local man with non-life threatening injuries, were still unknown, Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.
“Initial inquiries indicate that comments which may be construed of being of an extremist nature were made by the alleged offender,” he said.
It is alleged that the suspect used the phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ during the attack and when arrested by police, he said.
“While this information will be factored into the investigation we are not ruling out any motivations at this stage, whether they be political or criminal,” he added.
Gollschewski said investigators would also consider whether mental health or drug misuse were factors in the incident in which a dog was also fatally injured.
Police said the Frenchman, who had been in Australia since March, allegedly said “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) both during the attack and his arrest, which were reportedly witnessed by about 30 people at the hostel.
When asked if the 29-year-old had links to the so-called Islamic State group, Gollschewski said “no” and added that there was no ongoing threat to the community.
“At this stage there’s no indications… other than the fact he was acting alone,” Australian Federal Police Commander Sharon Cowden added at the same press conference.
“It is a shocking incident and the community should remain vigilant. He was lawfully in Australia and at this stage he is not known to any authorities.”
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