A man has been shot dead by Australian police while three officers have been injured during a hostage drama and gun battle in Melbourne, a confrontation for which the Daesh terrorist group has claimed responsibility.
The deadly stand-off began after emergency services responded to reports of an explosion at an apartment block in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Brighton on Monday. Victoria State police officers called to the scene discovered the body of a man in the foyer of the building.
The dramatic siege ended when the suspect exited the apartment complex and opened fire. Police returned fire and killed the hostage taker, whom police said identified as Yacqub Khayre, a 29-year-old Australian citizen who called a broadcaster during the siege to say he was acting in the name of Daesh. At least three officers were also injured in an exchange of fire with the gunman. The woman taken hostage was safely rescued.
"The attack in Melbourne, Australia was carried out by a soldier of Daesh in response to the call for targeting the subjects of the coalition states," the Takfiri terror group said on its Amaq news agency.
Australian law enforcement agencies later confirmed that the incident was terrorism-related, saying that they are treating the attack as a "terrorist incident."
"We do have our counter-terrorism command working on it with our crime department investigators," deputy police commissioner Andrew Crisp said, adding, "It's early days and it's one line of inquiry."
A bomb squad member exits a residential building in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Brighton on June 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The incident came as Canberra is growing increasingly concerned about the threat of militant attacks across the Asian-Pacific country after those who have joined terror groups in the Middle East return home.  
In late March 2017, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warned that Daesh could establish a stronghold in the southern Philippines, the nearest territory to mainland Australia to likely become a hotbed of terrorist activities.
She said that hundreds of militants from Southeast Asia had been in the Middle East fighting for Daesh and could soon return to the region as the Takfiri group loses more territory to security forces fighting to take back land overrun by the outfit.
Bishop said that Australian security forces had already been working closely with the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia to identify and eradicate terrorist elements in the region.
Daesh, which first emerged in the Middle East and later spread its activities to North Africa and Afghanistan, has been suffering heavy losses in Iraq and Syria, the two countries where it has been significantly active. There is now concern that efforts to eradicate Daesh in those countries are pushing the terrorists to seek a foothold elsewhere.

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