MELBOURNE • The man accused of deliberately ploughing into Christmas shoppers on a busy street in the Australian city of Melbourne was charged yesterday with 18 counts of attempted murder.
The incident on Thursday was the second serious vehicle attack in Australia's second-biggest city this year.
Police said they had charged the man, former Afghanistan refugee Saeed Noori, after formally interviewing him about the attack that police had earlier described as a "deliberate act".
Police have said Noori, 32, is known to have mental health problems and to use drugs, and they did not believe the attack was terrorism-related.
Police suspect Noori was behind the wheel of a white sport utility vehicle when he deliberately sped up and drove into dozens of pedestrians crossing the road at one of the busiest intersections in Melbourne's central business district.
In January, six people were killed in Melbourne's central business district when a man used his vehicle to mow them down. Police also ruled out terrorism for that attack.
Following the January incident, the authorities installed 140 concrete bollards in the city centre.
Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews said 12 people remained in hospital, including three who were in critical condition.
He said there would be an increased police presence at Melbourne events, including the Boxing Day Test Cricket, carols and other major sports events.