MELBOURNE: A car plowed into a crowd in Australia’s second-largest city on Thursday in what police said was a “deliberate act” that left more than a dozen people injured, some of them seriously.
Witnesses said people were thrown through the air after being hit by the vehicle, which did not appear to be trying to stop as it “mowed everybody down.”
Victoria state police said they had arrested two men, including the driver of a car that “collided with a number of pedestrians” at a busy intersection in downtown Melbourne.
“We believe based on what we have seen that it is a deliberate act. The motivations are unknown,” Victoria Police’s Commander Russell Barrett told reporters.
Barrett would not comment on whether the incident was terror-related, only saying “it is the early days of the investigation and that is unknown.”
Paramedics had taken a number of people to hospital, some of them with serious injuries, ambulance officials said.
Sky News Australia reported they included a pre-school child with a grave head injury.
Photographs from the scene showed one man wearing a long-sleeved top being dragged from a white Suzuki Grand Vitara, while a bearded second man wearing a red checked shirt was seen handcuffed and sitting on the ground.
In a tweet, police appealed to members of the public to upload any images they might have of the incident to help assist with their investigation.
A witness, named only as Sue, told Melbourne radio station 3AW that she heard screams and saw “people flying everywhere.”
“We could hear this noise, as we looked left, we saw this white car, it just mowed everybody down,” she said.
“People are flying everywhere. We heard thump, thump. People are running everywhere.”
Another witness, John, told ABC Radio Melbourne that he saw an “SUV coming at high speed.”
“[I] really just heard the collision with people with bags and what must be shopping trolleys—and I hope not prams,” he said.
“I’ve really never seen anything like this before and I haven’t stopped shaking.”
The intersection is one of Melbourne’s busiest, a local shop owner told national broadcaster ABC, and is particularly crowded at this time of the year ahead of the Christmas break, with school holidays under way.