British woman stabbed to death at Australian hostel by attacker shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’

Queensland Police Service described the incident as a ‘senseless act of violence’

Caroline Mortimer
Wednesday 24 August 2016 06:24
British woman stabbed to death in Australia by man shouting 'Allahu Akbar'

A British woman has been killed after being stabbed at a hostel in Australia by man who allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.

A 30-year-old British man is also in a critical condition following the attack at the Shelly's Backpackers in the town of Home Hill in Queensland at around 11:15pm local time on Tuesday, police said.

Queensland Police Service said up to 30 people witnessed the “senseless act of violence” at a room in the hostel.

A 29-year-old French national was arrested at the scene and taken into custody. He was then transferred to hospital for treatment for “non-life threatening” injuries.

Police said the man had no known links to Isis and appeared to have acted alone.

The woman, who has been named locally as Mia Ayliffe-Chung, was found dead at the scene and the British man was rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

She had arrived in the area around 10 days earlier with the hope of finding work as a fruit picker nearby to fulfil the requirements of her visa.

Mia Ayliffe-Chung had been working on a fruit farm to fulfill the requirements of her visa

The 21-year-old, who was originally from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, had previously been working as a waitress at a nightclub in the Surfers Paradise suburb of Gold Coast, newspaper the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.

A 46-year-old Australian man, who attempted to intervene, was also stabbed in the leg but his injuries were not deemed to be life threatening and he has since been released from hospital.

In a press conference, deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the investigation was in its early stages and all motivations were being considered, including criminal and political, as well as the impact of drugs and mental health issues.

Forensic officers at the hostel in Queensland (Rex)

He said: “Initial inquiries indicate that comments which may be construed as being of an extremist nature were made by the alleged offender.

“It is alleged that the suspect used the phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ during the attack and when arrested by police.”

Detective superintendent Ray Rohweder from the Queensland Police Service said officers were confronted with a “terrible scene” when they arrived.

He said the families of both victims had been contacted with the help of the British consulate and said the officers’ “thoughts and condolences” were with them.

Police have refused to release information on how long the victims had been in the country or whether they knew each but other but did confirm they had been staying at the accommodation.

The man taken into custody is a visitor to Australia who has been in the country since around March on a temporary visa and has no known local connections, Mr Gollschewski said.

He said they were still trying to find out what he has been doing in the country since his arrival but he was not known to police before the attack.

The police said they are not searching for anyone else in relation to the incident, which also killed a police dog, and there is no known ongoing threat to the community.

Mr Gollschewski added: “This is not about race or religion. It is individual criminal behaviour.”

Queensland Police called the attack a "senseless act of violence" and said they were investigating with the help of the Australian Federal Police.

The country's Border Force are also involved in the investigation.

A British Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are working with local authorities and providing support to the families of a British national who was killed and another critically injured in an incident in Australia.

“Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time”.

Queensland MP, George Christensen, said the incident demonstrated a need “to tighten border screening to stop violent radical Islamists from setting foot on shores”.

The victim had only been in the area for 10 days at the time of the attack 

The British high commissioner to Australia Menna Rawlings boarded a flight to Townsville after reports of the incident emerged.

A spokeswoman for the British High Commission in Canberra said: “We are working with local authorities and providing support to the families after one British national was killed and another critically injured in an incident in Australia.

“Our thoughts are with the families at this difficult time. High Commission staff have deployed to Townsville and we remain in close contact with local authorities.”

Additional reporting by PA

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