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Van explodes outside Oz office of Christian group

22 December 2016, 12:20

Sydney - A van carrying gas cylinders exploded outside the headquarters of a Christian lobbying group in Australia's capital, though there did not appear to be any political or religious motivations behind the incident, police said on Thursday.

The driver, a 35-year-old Australian man, was the only person injured in Wednesday night's explosion, which seriously damaged the van and blew out windows in the two-story building, Australian Capital Territory police said.

The driver ignited several gas cylinders that were inside the van, causing the explosion, Deputy Chief Police Officer Mark Walters said. He then walked to a hospital, where he was in critical condition with serious burns. Police have not released his name, saying only that he was not previously known to authorities.

"As a result of our conversations with the man, we have been able to establish that his actions were not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated," Walters told reporters in Canberra.

Death threats

Walters declined to elaborate on why they have ruled out any sort of political motive and would not say whether the man had any connection to the Australian Christian Lobby, a conservative advocacy group. An investigation into what prompted him to ignite the cylinders was underway, Walters said.

The head of the Australian Christian Lobby said his group had received anonymous threats over the past year because of its opposition to gay marriage and equality for transgender students.

"I don't know the motivation of last night's attack, but the context of what I see here is in the context of multiple death threats and threats of violence that my staff have endured over the course of this year," managing director Lyle Shelton told reporters.

The group has locked the building for most of this year after never doing so for at least eight years, Shelton said, calling the incident a "truly shocking situation."


- AP

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