Australian police on Monday shot dead the man who had taken the woman hostage and said they were investigating whether the incident was terror-related.
Hours later, the Amaq news agency — which is affiliated with the Islamic State group — said: “The executor of the Melbourne attack in Australia is a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried out the attack in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition states.”
Police responding to reports of an explosion at the apartment block in the suburb of Brighton had earlier found the body of another man in the foyer.
The siege ended when the suspect exited the apartment complex and opened fire. The woman escaped safely but three officers were injured by gunshots.
Police returned fire and killed the man.
The authorities said they had yet to determine whether the incident in the affluent beach-side suburb was terrorism-related, but Victoria state police said it was one line of inquiry.
“We do have our counter-terrorism command working on it with our crime department investigators,” deputy police commissioner Andrew Crisp told reporters Monday night.
“It’s early days and it’s one line of inquiry.”
Australian officials are growing increasingly concerned over the threat of militant attacks.
Officials say they have prevented 12 such attacks on home soil since the threat level was raised in September 2014, with 61 people charged.
But four have gone ahead, including the murder of a Sydney police employee in 2015 by a 15-year-old boy.
In the latest incident, police responded to a phone call to emergency services, advising that a man had been killed and a hostage was being held.
Witnesses recalled a frightening situation with multiple shots fired in the suburb.
“I got told there was an explosion around 4:00 pm. I hung around for a while and I heard gunshots, about 10 shots, and we got told it was a hostage situation,” local resident Will Reid told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It was frightening: you wouldn’t expect that in Brighton at all.”
The injuries to the police officers were not life-threatening. DM
"If a man seeks from the good life anything beyond itself, it is not the good life he is seeking" ~ Plotinus