Police: no links to terrorism after car rams crowd in Australia

In this photo made video from the Australian Broadcasting Corp., a white SUV vehicle is stopped after allegedly striking pedestrians, Thursday, Dec. 21, 20217, in Melbourne, Australia. Local media say over a dozen people have been injured after a car drove into pedestrians on a sidewalk in central Melbourne. (Australian Broadcast Corp. via AP)

SYDNEY (AP) — Melbourne police say a suspect in a car ramming in Australia is an Australian of Afghan descent.

Police spoke just hours after the car slammed into a crowd in Melbourne, hurting at least 19 people.

Authorities say the suspect has history of drug use and mental health issues.

Police also say there is no evidence at this time that the incident is linked to terrorism, adding that the investigation is ongoing.

Two men were arrested after the car slammed into the crowd.

Victorian state police said in a statement the driver of the vehicle and a second man were in police custody after the incident, which occurred on Flinders Street in the city’s central business district just after 4:30 p.m. when the area was busy with Christmas shoppers.

The motive of the incident was not clear immediately. Sky News Australia reported the driver of the white Suzuki SUV was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed after his vehicle crashed into a bollard by a cable car stop.

Media reports said 13 people have been taken to hospitals, including a pre-school aged child in serious condition with head injuries.

Witnesses told Sky News the car ran a red light, sped up and struck pedestrians, in an area with a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit.

“As it (the car) approached this intersection … it just mowed everybody down, people were flying everywhere,” one witness who identified herself only as Sue told radio station 3AW.

Police said in a statement they had “saturated the … area in the vicinity of Flinders, Elizabeth and Swanston streets to ensure community safety.”

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