A Pakistani petrol station attendant was stabbed to death during an “absolutely horrific” crime spree in Australia with counter-terror police investigating Friday.
The 29-year-old, Zeeshan Akbar, was found with multiple stab wounds late Thursday after allegedly being attacked by two boys, aged 15 and 16.
Police believe the pair, from Queanbeyan where the petrol station was located, went on a rampage, allegedly stabbing another man in the stomach, hitting a third with a tyre iron and a fourth with a beer bottle.
The two teens were arrested after being chased by New South Wales state police into the Australian Capital Territory.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the attacks were concerning enough to involve the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, while describing the incidents as “shocking”.
“It doesn't need to be said, but it doesn't get more serious than this,” Monaro local police commander Superintendent Rod Smith told reporters.
“It's an absolutely horrific series of events, and we'd just like to reassure everybody that there are two people that we believe are involved, and both of those people are currently in custody.”
The 16-year-old was being investigated for suspected links to global militant groups, New South Wales state deputy police commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters, adding that neither youth had been charged.
"It appears at this stage that there may be links to a modus operandi that we would suggest is indicative of a terrorist attack," Burn said without offering more details.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that one of the teenager's mothers thought her son had been 'radicalised' in recent weeks. Police have not yet confirmed links to religious extremism.
Naela Chohan, Pakistani High Commissioner to Australia, while speaking to SBS, revealed that the victim was a temporary resident who had been in Australia for eight years.
Distant relatives of the man, Ms Chohan said, had been contacted and efforts were being made to inform his family in Karachi.
The Pakistani victim was one of four brothers and was in Australia alone. Ms Chohan said she did not want to prejudge the investigation outcome at this stage, when asked about a possible racial motive behind the attack.
“The Pakistani community is deeply concerned and saddened by this horrific murder,” she said.
Consulate staff had been sent out into the 10,000 strong Canberra Pakistani community to speak with the victim’s friends, Ms Chohan said.
“It’s something that you don’t expect when you have such a good community that is well-behaved, law-abiding and then such a crime occurs, it is something that shocks everybody,” she said.
Counter-terrorism police have made a series of arrests since late 2014 across Australia, with the young age and radicalisation of many of those detained a growing concern for authorities.
Canberra has become increasingly worried about homegrown extremism and parliament last year passed new legislation to lower from 16 to 14 the age at which people can be subject to a control order.
The order aims to prevent a terror attack by limiting a person's movements, communication and activity.