July 22, 2016
SYDNEY (AFP) - Terror links were Friday ruled out after a man set his car alight and rammed it into a police station in Australia, as officials vowed to review security after the scare.
The man was seen parked in the driveway of the Merrylands Police Station in Sydney's west late Thursday with the car going up in flames when officers approached.
It was then driven into an underground carpark security door.
Police said petrol and a gas bottle were found inside by officers who risked their lives to extinguish the blaze and pull out the man, who suffered serious burns. No one else was injured.
A motive has yet to be established but terrorism was ruled out.
"It is the first thing we always go to in terms of our thinking these days unfortunately," said New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione.
"But the reality is on this occasion, what I can say is this event is not in any way linked to a terrorist attack based on the briefings I have received this morning."
The man, who is under police guard in hospital, was known to officers and reportedly had a history of mental problems. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said he was a Czech national.
The Australian government lifted its terror threat level to high in September 2014 and recently said nine terror events had been prevented since then.
But several have taken place, including the terror-linked murder of a police employee in Sydney in October.
Scipione said security had already been beefed up at police stations across New South Wales state, and it would be looked at again after Thursday's incident.
"Security at this police station is already very, very high," he said, adding that ballistic glass was recently installed and cages put around key areas.
"But we will go back again and have a look at this because we will never stop in doing all we can to secure our police stations for our police."
Attorney-General George Brandis urged caution against every act of violence being seen as a possible terrorist attack, after early reports of the incident suggested a link.
"From what police can determine there is no reason to believe that the event at the Merrylands Police Station last night was a terrorist event and it's important to bear this in mind," he said.
"Not every act of violence, even a pre-meditated or carefully planned act of violence, is an act of terrorism."