It’s “not religiously motivated”. Or so we are told.
Van ‘explodes’ after ramming into Australian Christian Lobby office in Canberra
The burnt out van.
22 December 2016 • 2:27am
A van laden with gas cylinders has exploded outside the headquarters of an Australian Christian lobby group, but police on Thursday said the blast was neither politically nor religiously motivated.
Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Lyle Shelton tweeted pictures of the burnt-out white vehicle and said he was “shocked that this could happen in Australia”.
He added that the group this year received death threats for taking a stand against same-sex marriage, suggesting the incident could be linked.
But Australian Capital Territory police commander Mark Walters said the motive for the incident, in which only the driver was injured, remained unclear.
“The driver appears to have ignited gas cylinders within the vehicle, causing an explosion which damaged the vehicle and building,” he said.
“Police spoke briefly with the man before he continued with treatment. Police were able to establish the man’s actions were not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated.”
The driver, a 35-year-old Australian, walked to hospital after the blast and was in a critical condition with serious burns. Police plan to speak with him again as soon as they can.
A vehicle has rammed our office in Canberra & exploded. All staff are safe. I do not know the condition of the driver. Prayers appreciated. pic.twitter.com/R1cKOIfMTC
— Lyle Shelton (@LyleShelton) 21 December 2016
Justice minister Michael Keenan said the Wednesday night collision in Canberra was not being treated as a terror attack.
“The police will obviously now need to use their investigative techniques to track down what the motivation was for this particular attack,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“At the moment they are not treating it as a terrorist incident and there’s no ongoing safety issues for the community.”
Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Lyle Shelton tweeted pictures of the burnt-out white vehicle on Wednesday and said he was “shocked that this could happen in Australia”.
“A vehicle has rammed our office in Canberra and exploded. All staff are safe. I do not know the condition of the driver. Prayers appreciated,” he said.
Media reports said the vehicle was carrying gas bottles, although police would not confirm this.
“ACT policing responded to an incident last night where a vehicle collided with a building,” Australian Capital Territory Police told AFP.
The damaged entrance to the offices of the Australian Christian Lobby Group in Canberra.
“The driver was the only person injured in the collision. Investigations are ongoing.”
As dawn broke in Canberra, television pictures showed damage to both floors of the building, with broken windows and oil and debris strewn in the car park.
The ACL lobbies national and state/territory governments on Christian values. Most recently it has been campaigning against same-sex marriage.
A closer view of the car bomb driven into the ACL office in Canberra tonight. Shocked that this could happen in Australia. pic.twitter.com/GxJQZLTFQr
— Lyle Shelton (@LyleShelton) December 21, 2016
“Obviously we don’t know the motives of the person who drove this van, but we have received a number of death threats and threats of violence over the course of this year that we have reported to police,” Shelton told reporters.
“This is an attack on free speech in Australia, which I am deeply shocked about and never thought I would see in my lifetime.”
According to the ABC, earlier this week a vehicle burst into flames after being rammed into a building just a few kilometres from Wednesday’s incident in what was believed to be an arson attack.