Isis claims responsibility for Melbourne attack; Australia and US talk terrorism in high-level meeting

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Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State while taking part in a military parade
Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State (IS) while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in this June 30, 2014 file photo. Reuters/Stringer

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack in Melbourne that claimed the lives of at least two people and left three officers injured. The militant group pointed at Australia’s membership in a US-led coalition against them as cause of the attack.

ISIS issued a statement via a news agency associated to it, saying the attack was carried out by one of its soldiers. “The attack in Melbourne, Australia, was carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State in response to the call for targeting the subjects of the coalition states,” the group said in a statement published on Amaq news agency and translated by Reuters.

According to the Seven Network, the gunman contacted the organisation, saying “This is for IS [Islamic State].”  Victoria police confirmed Tuesday that they were treating the siege as a terrorist act.

But chief police commissioner Graham Ashton said authorities are yet to establish whether ISIS was directly involved in the siege. He warned against placing too much faith in the group's claim of responsibility, saying they “do that at the drop of a hat.”

Ashton revealed the identity of the attacker as Yacqub Khayre. He was previously charged with a terrorism plot that targeted Holsworthy army barracks in Sydney. He was out of prison in November and was on parole at the time of Monday’s attack.

Not intimidated at all

Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Australia and America are still steadfast in their fight against terrorism and they do not allow themselves to be intimidated by people who think they will be scared. He assured the US does not take its alliance with Australia for granted, Nine News reports.

In a high-level meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Australia's foreign and defence ministers in Sydney on Tuesday, Mattis said they are not afraid at those who are trying to cause harm. He continued by saying they will work together in a manner that is in line with the freedoms and the values both countries share, something they will pass on to the next generation.

The siege in Australia follows the fatal terrorist attack in London, in which three men mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed revellers in nearby Borough Market. Mattis expressed gratitude to Australia for being committed to defeating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that any Australian who opts to support terrorist organisations is breaking the law and will be subjected to it.

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