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One Person Was Killed in a Stabbing Attack in Melbourne, Police Say

One Person Was Killed in a Stabbing Attack in Melbourne, Police Say

Victoria Police would not provide the assailant's identity but said the man had come to Australia from Somalia in the 1990s and resided in Melbourne's northwest. The reason for the attack has yet to be confirmed.

Video from the scene showed a man swinging a knife at two police officers near a burning vehicle before he was shot.

The vehicle burst into flames outside Bourke Street Mall. The suspect was shot in the chest by police, Clayton said.

"At this stage we're still encouraging people to go to those events, and it's highly likely we'll have additional police at all of those events", he said. "Fire then started in the vehicle and he's got out of the vehicle".

Ambulance Victoria said paramedics had assessed three people at the scene.

Witness footage showed police struggling for at least a minute to corral the towering man as he lunged, slashed and stabbed wildly at two officers.

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As police officers reached the scene they were confronted by a knife-wielding man who tried to attack them.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Twitter that he condemned the "evil and cowardly attack" and praised the bravery of the police.

Officers had initially responded to a report of a vehicle on fire on the popular shopping street at 4.20pm (5.20am GMT) on Friday.

Two victims are still in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The man, who was shot in the chest by police, was in critical condition.

"Passers-by were calling out that members of the public had been stabbed", Supt Clayton said.

"I didn't know what was happening there was just so much chaos and screaming".

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Bystander Drew Hair told AAP he was walking on Swanston Street when he heard an explosion.

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The street was closed off and shops, including two large department stores, were evacuated.

"We ask the public, unless you've got a goal to be here, please avoid the area, we'll provide regular updates through the media in relation to when the area is safe and clear", he said.

The Islamic State group later said one of its fighters carried out the assault but it provided no evidence for the claim, news agency Reuters reported from Dubai.

"It's the center of Melbourne, where a lot of the transportation changes over ... it's probably the busiest part of Melbourne and late on a Friday", said Meegan May who witnessed part incident from a nearby tram.

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