Eight dead children and a woman suffering from stab wounds were found inside a home in a northern Australian city on Friday, police said. (AP)
Eight children have been found stabbed to death near the town of Cairns in for northeastern Australia, according to Australian Broadcasting and other news outlets. So far, no information is available from authorities about the circumstances of the crime, and police say they have no formal suspect.
The ages of the children found Friday reportedly range from 18 months to 15 years, all discovered in the same home at about 11:2o a.m. local time. Detectives were waiting for forensics technicians to complete their work inside the house before entering.
Shocked residents of the town kept vigil during the night as a steady stream of people brought flowers to the scene.
Bessie Mareko, a neighbor, told Australian Broadcasting that she saw the woman and a number of children at 2:00am cleaning up their home and putting unwanted items on the street. “I’m really shocked. I just saw her this morning on the verandah with her kids,” she told the network.
The deaths were called one of the worst single-family killings in Australia. The news stunned the nation, which is still mourning two people killed earlier this week in a hostage siege in Sydney carried out by Iranian-born gunman Man Haron Monis.
Inspector Bruno Asnicar told reporters late Friday that “as it stands at the moment, there’s no need for the public to be concerned about this other than the fact that it’s a tragic, tragic event. … The situation is well controlled at the moment.”
Cairns, once a mining town, is a popular destination for tourists exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Its population is about 200,000.
A member of the public lays a a bunch of flowers across the road from the scene of a multiple stabbing in the suburb of Manoora on Dec. 19, 2014, in Cairns, Australia. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
According to the Australian, a 34-year-old woman was taken to a hospital from the home and is cooperating with police. The paper quoted Lisa Thaiday from the scene, saying that the women, her sister, was the mother of the children. Police said she was the mother of seven of the eight.
ABC reported interviewing a man named Larry Woosup, who said he was a relative of the home’s occupants.
“I’m desperate like everyone else to hear” what happened, he said. “We just had that thing down in Sydney there and it’s the end of the year and it’s a family thing, Christmas and New Year and you get this sort of thing happening.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a Tweet that the events in Cairns were “heartbreaking and all parents would feel a gut-wrench sadness at what has happened.”
A policeman guards the scene of a stabbing attack at a home in Cairns, northern Queensland, Dec. 19, 2014. Eight children have been killed and a woman who was mother to seven of them was injured in the northern Australian city of Cairns, police said on Friday, in what several media outlets reported was a mass stabbing. (Reuters)
Fred Barbash, the editor of Morning Mix, is a former National Editor and London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.
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