Vehicle 'explodes', man shot by police in Melbourne

Policemen block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne Australia on Nov 9 2018

The man described as an eyewitness as "Muslim" went on a stabbing rampage after ramming his auto through pedestrians which later "exploded" in Bourke Street, Melbourne in the evening rush hour.

The attack during the afternoon rush hour brought the centre of Australia's second largest city to a standstill. The reason for the attack has yet to be confirmed.

Earlier, Superintendent David Clayton had said that when police arrived, they were "confronted by a male brandishing a knife and threatening them".

Two members of the public came to the aid of police, one using a shopping trolley and another using a chair to try and stop the attacker. He has since been transported to the hospital under police guard and is in a critical condition.

"There's no known link to terrorism at this stage".

A man has been shot by police after setting his auto on fire and stabbing several people in a mall in Melbourne's CBD this afternoon.

Ashton said the attacker was known to the authorities at the state and federal level, mainly due to his relatives who are persons of interest to police.

Friday's attack is a double blow for the city as it coincides with an ongoing the murder trial of 28-year-old James Gargasoulas, who drove his auto into crowds in the same area in 2017, killing six people.

Local media showed video footage of a man in a dark tunic slashing and stabbing wildly at two police officers as the vehicle burned, before being shot with a weapon. He later died in hospital while under armed guard.

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He later died in hospital, Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters.

Witnesses reported the sound of a large explosion and a vehicle bursting into flames outside the Target store on Friday afternoon.

Police were responding to reports a vehicle was on fire.

Two other victims have been taken to hospital with injuries. A bomb squad rendered them safe without any exploding.

"They were around him trying to take the knife out of his hand-I'm pretty sure it was a kitchen knife", he said, according to Perth Now.

This image made from video shows police cordon in Melbourne, Australia.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews' office sent out a statement following his press conference.

A driver who rammed into pedestrians at a mall close to Friday's incident killed at least four people in January of past year.

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