The Afghan-born man who allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of people Thursday in Melbourne, Australia said the attack was in response to the country’s “mistreatment of Muslims.”
Eighteen victims were injured, three of them critically. Police originally said the suspect had mental health issues and no known links to terrorism, and they are still trying to figure out how the attack should be labeled.
“He has said that he attributes his actions to the perceived mistreatment of Muslims,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Friday. “At this stage … apart from that statement, there are no known links to any political issues or any links to extremist groups.”
The man came to Australia in 2004 as part of the country’s refugee program. He became an Australian citizen two years ago.
Australia’s refugee program has been criticized by the Turnbull government and the labelling of the attack could reignite the debate further.
Shane Patton, the regional acting chief commissioner, said police don’t have enough evidence to name it an act of terrorism.
“I don’t have an issue with saying this is an act of terrorism if we establish that it is,” Patton said, according to The Washington Post. “It would be easier to come out and say that straight up. But that’s not the case at this stage. We don’t have sufficient [evidence] to justify that.”
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