A 21-year-old British woman has been stabbed to death at a backpackers’ hostel in Australia by an attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
As well as fatally injuring Mia Ayliffe-Chung, the 29-year-old French man left a 30-year-old Briton — named locally as Tom Jackson — fighting for his life.
The knife attack took place at Shelley’s Backpackers accommodation in the Home Hill area of Queensland at about 11.15pm on Tuesday.
Ms Ayliffe-Chung, from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, was only days into a three-month trip to the country. She had been working as a waitress and with animals on a farm so she could extend her working holiday visa.
Friends have been paying tribute to both Britons since hearing of the attack.
Samantha Harrison wrote on Facebook: “Tom Jackson was a very close friend and one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Now Tom I need you to stay strong and beat this for yourself and all of your friends and family who love you.”
Amy Browne, 19, from the Gold Coast, who worked as a bartender at the Bedroom Lounge Bar, where Ms Ayliffe-Chung was a waitress, said: “Mia was honestly the most bubbliest and most caring girl I knew. She got along with everyone she met, she just had that gorgeous personality that everyone seemed to enjoy.
“She always had a smile on her face, so innocent and full of life and love.”
Queensland deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski said all motivations for the attack were being considered, including criminal and political, as well as the impact of drugs and mental health problems.
He said: “Initial inquiries indicate that comments which may be construed as being of an extremist nature were made by the alleged offender. It is alleged that the suspect used the phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ during the attack and when arrested by police.”
He said Ms Ayliffe-Chung was the first person to be attacked and the incident was being treated as a murder case, not a terror attack.
Police said up to 30 people witnessed the “senseless act of violence” in which a 46-year-old local man, named as Grant Scholz, also suffered non life-threatening injuries — and a dog was killed.
The suspect was arrested and transferred to hospital for treatment for minor injuries.
Detective Superintendent Ray Rohweder said the suspect was not known to police, and detectives were still trying to discover what he had been doing in the country since his arrival.
The attacker is believed to have been acting alone and police have retrieved a knife, thought to have been the weapon involved in the stabbing.
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