An Australian mother was arrested for murder in the stabbing deaths of eight children, seven of whom were believed to be hers, police said Saturday.
The children were found dead inside the woman’s home, who was suffering from serious stab wounds, inside a northern Australian home Friday.
The 37-year-old woman, who is recovering in a hospital from stab wounds, was under guard and speaking with police, Queensland Police Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said. She has not yet been formally charged.
The woman is thought to be the mother of seven of the children, Asnicar said. The eighth is believed to be her niece.
Queensland state police were called to to the home in the Cairns suburb of Manoora Friday after receiving a report of a woman with serious injuries. When police entered the house, they found the bodies of the children, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years.
The Guardian reports the children were all stabbed to death.
Lisa Thaiday, who said she was the woman’s cousin, said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, came home and found his brothers and sisters dead inside the house.
“I’m going to see him now, he needs comforting,” Thaiday said. “We’re a big family … I just can’t believe it. We just found out (about) those poor babies.”
Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said the police who reported the incident were initially ‘distressed.’
“These events are extremely distressing for everyone, of course, and police officers aren’t immune to that, we’re human beings as well,” Ansicar said. “But the police we have here are very highly trained and professional. I’m very happy with the response.”
Dozens of police descended on the home, and crowds of locals stood outside the police barricades, some wiping away tears. The street has been cordoned off and a crime scene will remain in place for at least the next day, Ansicar said.
The tragedy comes as Australia is still reeling from the shock of a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe earlier this week. On Monday, a gunman burst into a cafe in the heart of the city and took 18 people inside hostage. Two hostages were killed along with the gunman after police stormed in 16 hours later in a bid to end the siege.
“The news out of Cairns is heartbreaking,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement. “All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime. These are trying days for our country.”
The incident is not thought to be terrorism related, the Cairns Post reports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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