At least 19 people have been injured after a man intentionally drove into pedestrians. Police have said there is no connection with terrorism "at this time."
A car intentionally plowed into pedestrians at one of Melbourne's busiest intersections on Thursday, injuring at least 19 people.
The white four-wheel drive hit the pedestrians at the intersection of Flinders and Elizabeth Street around 4:45 p.m. local time (0645 UTC/GMT), Victoria Police said in a statement. The intersection is next to Flinders Street Station.
Nineteen pedestrians were injured during the incident and taken to hospital. Two people were also treated for non-collision related injuries.
"At this time we do not have any evidence or intelligence to indicate a connection with terrorism," Victoria state Police Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said.
The driver of the vehicle, a 32-year-old man, was arrested by an off-duty male police officer, followed shortly after by general duties police and members from the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT). The driver has been taken to hospital under police guard.
"We believe based on what we have seen that it is a deliberate act," Victoria Police's Commander Russell Barrett told reporters in Melbourne. We do not know the motivation and it is still early stages in the investigation."
The man was known to police and has a history of drug use and mental health issues but no known terrorism links, Victoria Police said. They said the suspect in custody had had minor interactions with Victoria Police for driving offences and minor assault in the past.
The second person arrested, a 24-year-old man, was also arrested by CIRT. It is now believed he had no links to the incident, however he is still assisting police with enquiries.
The incident comes months after a car mowed down pedestrians in Melbourne's busiest mall in January, killing six people. That case was not terrorism-related.
Strategy to combat vehicle terror attacks
The Australian government in August unveiled a strategy aimed at preventing vehicle terror attacks carried out in crowded public places after deadly assaults in Barcelona, Nice and London.
The strategy, commissioned after 86 people were killed in the Nice truck attack last year, offered businesses and local governments a guide to assessing how vulnerable their sites are.
Suggested steps include deterrent options like fencing and closed-circuit cameras, and delaying approaches such as trees and bollards to slow down vehicles.
law/jil (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)