Two men were arrested on Thursday after a car drove into a crowd of pedestrians outside Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Street station, the Australian police said.
The incident left 19 people injured, four of whom were in critical condition, Victoria Police Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said.
Among them was a pre-school age child who was taken to hospital with a head injury and was in a serious condition, CNN reported.
Patton told reporters that the driver of the vehicle was a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan descent known to police but only for minor offences.
Patton said that while the crash was considered to be deliberate, there was no evidence of a link to terrorism. He added that the driver had a history of drug use and mental health issues.
The second man who was detained at the scene was observed filming the incident on his mobile phone. Arresting officers found three knives in his possession.
Patton and Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, who described the incident as “an evil, cowardly act”, highlighted the fact that investigators believed the incident to be “singular” in nature.
The authorities did not raise the terror threat level, encouraging people to continue enjoying the festive period. “You should come in, go to the carols, go to the cricket, continue to enjoy yourselves”, Patton said.
Images from the scene showed a number of people lying on the ground close to a large white vehicle. One witness told radio station 3AW the car had “just mowed everybody down, people were flying everywhere”.
In January, six people died when a man drove a car into pedestrians on Bourke Street. Afterwards, city authorities installed concrete blocks in various locations — including on Flinders Street — hoping to prevent vehicle-based attacks.