Australia mourns police officers, civilian killed in gunfight

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SYDNEY, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Australia on Wednesday mourned two police officers and a civilian who were killed in a gunfight in a remote property in Queensland state, with landmarks lighted blue in some major cities.

Police were still trying to determine why the officers were attacked as they investigated a missing person report, Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll told ABC television.

“We will get to the bottom of this because we need to know what happened and why,” Carroll said.

Constable Matthew Arnold, 26; Constable Rachel McCrow, 29; and Alan Dare, 58, who lived near the property, were killed in the gunfire on Monday, officials say.

Members of the local community take part in a vigil at Calamvale police station, Calamvale, south of Brisbane, Australia. Constables Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29, died in an ambush and siege at a remote Queensland property. EPA-EFE/JONO SEARLE

In honour of the slain officers, major landmarks in Queensland were lit up in blue on Tuesday. New South Wales authorities said the sails of the Sydney Opera House would be lighted blue on Wednesday night.

Police shot and killed a 46-year-old man, a 47-year-old-man and a 45-year-old woman, believed to be the attackers, at the property in Wieambilla, about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Queensland’s capital, Brisbane.

Authorities have said, without giving more details, that “a siege” occurred there after Arnold, McCrow and two other officers arrived on Monday afternoon and were attacked.

A former school employee in New South Wales state, who had not been working since August 2021 and left employment in March, was among those killed, a spokesperson for the state’s education department said in an emailed statement.

The police have not formally released the identities of the civilians killed in the incident. The Queensland police did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

Gun crime is relatively rare in Australia, which implemented some of the world’s toughest gun laws after a gunman killed 35 people in April 1996 at a cafe and tourist site at the former colonial prison of Port Arthur in the island state of Tasmania.

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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