Several people stabbed in Australian city of Melbourne: police

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© Reuters. Police officers block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne© Reuters. Police officers block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne

By Tom Westbrook and Sonali Paul

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Several people were stabbed in the Australian city of Melbourne on Friday and a man was arrested after an incident in the center of the city crowded with pedestrians and shoppers.

“Police initially responded to a report of a car on fire … a man was arrested at the scene and has been taken to hospital under police guard in a critical condition,” Victoria state police said in statement.

“A small number of people are being treated for stab wounds.”

Further details are unclear however video posted to Twitter and broadcast on television showed a man repeatedly swinging an object at two police officers. One of the officers raises his weapon, a shot is heard and the man falls to the ground clutching his chest.

Victoria’s ambulance service said that three injured people were being treated at the scene. A Reuters witness said that the city center was closed off by police and that dozens of officers were patrolling.

It is not clear if the incident is terror-related. Australia has been on heightened alert from 2015 for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East.

The street where the car caught fire was the scene in January 2017 of a fatal but not terror-related incident in which a man drove his car at pedestrians at high speed, killing six people and wounding about 30.

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