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French man allegedly shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ in fatal stabbing of British woman at Australian hostel

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A British man is in a critical condition and a woman is dead after attack witnessed by up to 30 people in Home Hill, in Queenslands north

A French man allegedly cried Allahu Akbar during a stabbing attack that left a 21-year-old British woman dead in front of up to 30 onlookers at a backpackers hostel in Australias north-east.

The 29-year-old suspect allegedly repeated the phrase which means God is greatest in Arabic when arrested by Queensland police who were confronted with a terrible scene at the hostel in Home Hill about 100km south of Townsville on Tuesday night.

Steve Gollschewski, a deputy police commissioner, said the alleged offenders comments may be construed as being of an extremist nature and investigators were working with Australian federal police to establish his motives.

But police were not ruling out any motivations at this early stage, whether they be criminal or political.

Investigators would also consider whether mental health or drug misuse issues were a factor in the attack alongside any indication of an extremist slant or he was radicalised, Gollschewski said at a press conference in Brisbane.

This is not about race or religion, it is about individual criminal behaviour, he said.

Police were not searching for anyone else and there was no ongoing threat to the community, he said.

The alleged attack also left a British man, 30, in a critical condition with stabbing wounds. A local man, 47, who intervened suffered non life-threatening injuries and a dog at the hostel was fatally wounded.

The French man is in Townsville hospital after being injured. He has been taken into police custody, with charges yet to be laid.

He was not being held under federal anti-terrorist laws but state criminal laws, with investigators were considering charges including murder and attempted murder, Gollschewski said.

The man had been on Australia on a temporary visa since March and appeared to have no local connections, the deputy police commissioner said. He was not previously known to police.

Home Hill locator

Sharon Cowden, an Australian federal police commander, said at the same press conference that while the alleged killer had no known links to extremist groups, investigators would be speaking to all appropriate international law enforcement to examine this.

Any line of inquiry that takes us to international law enforcement we will follow, she said.

Cowden condemned the attack as a senseless act of violence.

Earlier on Wednesday, Superintendent Ray Rohweder told reporters in Townsville that investigators were still trying to piece together what has happened we dont have a motive yet.

Police were confronted with a terrible scene when they arrived, he said. There were up to 30 people who witnessed the incident.

Police had been in contact with the British consulate which would liaise with the victims families, Rohweder said.

Investigators arrested the French national at the scene and took possession of the knife allegedly used in the attacks.

The Liberal MP George Christensen, who represents the electorate the hostel is in, could not be reached for comment, but on Twitter he noted the arrest.

George Christensen (@GChristensenMP) August 24, 2016

Backpacker in #HomeHill in my electorate killed by man who yelled “Allahu Akbar!” when arrested by police. Details to come.

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palasczcuk, declined to comment. Her office told Guardian Australia the investigation was still in its early stages.

A spokeswoman from 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.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/24/british-woman-allegedly-stabbed-to-death-by-frenchman-at-australian-backpackers-hostel

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