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Burning Van Rams Australian Christian Lobby Office

Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2016 – 2:27 PM

(AFP) A burning van has hit the headquarters of an Australian Christian lobby group, with the organization’s head Thursday saying the group had received death threats this year.

The incident comes days after a truck drove into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Australian police refused to confirm whether the Wednesday night collision in Canberra was terror-related. 

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”.

“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 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 for Christian principles and ethics reforms in parliament, campaigning against gay marriage as well as other issues. 

“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.


© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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