May 24, 2017

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07-Apr-17: Is lethal rampage in distant corner of New South Wales tied to Islamist terror?

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The scene of the killing in NSW [Image Source]
A disturbing spate of violent attacks overnight in Australia may be getting little attention elsewhere but they underscore the assertion that terror doesn’t recognize distant, quiet corners. 
Queanbeyan (English approximation of an Aboriginal word meaning “clear waters”) is a regional centre with a population of about 38,000 in the Southern Tablelands of south-eastern New South Wales, situated about 15 km from the Australian capital, Canberra, and about 300 km from Sydney. 

Physical evidence found at the scene of a fatal stabbing at a Queanbeyan petrol station has suggested the attack was terror-related, NSW Police say… Two boys, aged 15 and 16, allegedly entered the service station and stabbed Pakistani-born 29-year-old employee Zeeshan Akbar… Police said the two teenagers were arrested following a police chase about 6:30am. Mr Akbar was one of four victims in a violent rampage that crossed the ACT-NSW border allegedly carried out by the two teens. NSW Deputy Police… Local police reassure residents their community is safe. Monaro police commander Superintendent Rod Smith said it appeared the pair, from Queanbeyan, had also been involved in a series of “absolutely horrific” attacks nearby overnight. That allegedly included stabbing another man in the abdomen. He was taken to Canberra Hospital in a serious but stable condition. Police said another man was bashed with a tyre iron in an aggravated break and enter, while yet another was hit with a beer bottle in a nearby park. The pair was also allegedly involved in another attempted robbery at Oaks Estate in the ACT… [“Queanbeyan stabbing: Counter-terrorism police investigate fatal rampage” | Australia’s ABC News | April 7, 2017]

And from a Canberra Times report this morning:

Nearby residents Robyn Hunter and her daughter, Maddy, were equally shocked by the reported gory nature of the crimes and the investigation into terrorism links. “I was a bit surprised by that, you don’t expect Queanbeyan to be involved in something like that, especially our little area up here,” Mrs Hunter said… “I’d understand it happening in Sydney or Melbourne or one of the bigger cities, but not here”…

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is quoted today saying the circumstances of the lethal stabbing raised ‘sufficient concern’ to warrant the involvement of counter-terrorism bodies. The evidence being hinted at is understandably the subject of media speculation. According to The Australian today:

The letters “IS”, potentially an acronym for the terrorist group Islamic State, were apparently smeared on the wall and window of the Bungendore Road service station where Mr Akbar was killed, police sources said.

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