Melbourne car attack: Australia police charge man

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Australian police stand near a crashed vehicle that had ploughed into pedestrians near Flinders Street train station in central Melbourne, Australia, December 21, 2017Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The car ploughed into Christmas shoppers near Flinders Street railway station

A man accused of driving his car into pedestrians in the Australian city of Melbourne has been charged with 18 counts of attempted murder.

Former Afghan refugee Saeed Noori, 32, appeared before magistrates on Saturday and was remanded in custody.

Police have said they do not believe the attack terrorism related and that Mr Noori has mental health issues.

Twelve people are still being treated in hospital after Thursday's incident in Flinders Street.

Three are in a critical condition. Nine of the injured are foreign nationals from countries including South Korea, Ireland, Venezuela, China, India and Italy.

The broadcaster ABC said Mr Noori became emotional in court, putting his head in his hands when he saw his mother crying ahead of the brief hearing.

The magistrate called for a psychological report. Mr Noori is scheduled to be back in court on Wednesday. There was no application for bail.

Melbourne police charged Mr Noori after he was released from hospital on Friday and have called the incident a "deliberate attack".

In addition to the attempted murder charges, he also faces one count of conduct endangering life.

Police have found no link between Mr Noori and any terrorist group. Islamist militants have used vehicles to attack people in Europe and the United States in recent years.

Security has been stepped up around Melbourne.

Police said there would be a "highly visible" presence of officers at the fourth Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground between Australia and England, which starts on Tuesday.