A 21-year-old British woman has been stabbed to death at a backpackers’ hostel in Australia by an attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
As well as fatally injuring Mia Ayliffe-Chung, the 29-year-old French man left a 30-year-old Briton – named locally as Tom Jackson – fighting for his life.
The knife attack took place at Shelley’s Backpackers accommodation in the Home Hill area of Queensland at about 11.15pm local time on Tuesday, police said.
Miss Ayliffe-Chung, from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, was only days into a three-month trip to the country. She had been working as a waitress and with animals on a farm so she could extend her working holiday visa.
Friends have been paying tribute to both Britons since hearing of the attack.
Samantha Harrison wrote on Facebook: “Tom Jackson was a very close friend and one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Now Tom I need you too stay strong and beat this for yourself and all of your friends and family who love you.”
While Amy Browne, 19, from the Gold Coast, who worked as a bartender at the Bedroom Lounge Bar, where Miss Ayliffe-Chung was a waitress, told the Press Association: “Mia was honestly the most bubbliest and most caring girl I knew.
“She got along with everyone she met, she just had that gorgeous personality that everyone seemed to enjoy.
“She always had a smile on her face, so innocent and full of life and love.”
Queensland deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski said all motivations for the attack were being considered, including criminal and political, as well as the impact of drugs and mental health problems.
He continued: “Initial inquiries indicate that comments which may be construed as being of an extremist nature were made by the alleged offender.
“It is alleged that the suspect used the phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ during the attack and when arrested by police.”
Mr Gollschewski added Miss Ayliffe-Chung was the first person to be attacked and the incident was being treated as a murder case, not a terror attack.
Police said up to 30 people witnessed the “senseless act of violence” in which a 46-year-old local man, named as Grant Scholz, also suffered non life-threatening injuries – and a dog was killed.
The suspect was arrested and transferred to hospital for treatment for minor injuries, and was captured on police body-cams uttering the phrase Allahu Akbar – which means God is Greatest in Arabic.
Miss Ayliffe-Chung’s boyfriend, Jamison Stead, 23, remembered her as a “beautiful soul” who had “fallen in love with the country and its people”.