Monday 20 January 2020

Frenchman yells 'Allahu Akbar' as he stabs British tourist (21) in Australia

Victim Mia Ayliffe-Chung (right) worked as waitress at the Bedroom Lounge Bar along with bartender colleague Amy Browne Photo: PA
Victim Mia Ayliffe-Chung (right) worked as waitress at the Bedroom Lounge Bar along with bartender colleague Amy Browne Photo: PA

Jonathan Pearlman

A British tourist killed at a hostel in Australia by a Frenchman yelling "Allahu Akbar" has been named as Mia Ayliffe-Chung.

The 21-year-old studied psychology and childcare before travelling to Surfers Paradise, in the state of Queensland, and worked as a nightclub waitress.

Mia Ayliffe-Chung Photo: PA
Mia Ayliffe-Chung Photo: PA

Police arrested a 29-year-old Frenchman and are investigating whether the "senseless" knife attack was motivated by Islamic extremism.

The man killed Ms Ayliffe-Chung and injured a 30-year-old Briton, as well as a dog.

According to her Facebook page, Ms Ayliffe-Chung was from Belper in Derbyshire.

Her identity was confirmed by local media in Surfers Paradise, where her workmates described her as "bubbly".

She reportedly travelled north from Surfers Paradise 10 days ago to work in a rural area to extend her Australian visa.


Last month, Ms Ayliffe-Chung wrote on Facebook that the "hardest thing living my dream" is "missing the important home things".

Describing her rural experience last week, she wrote: "Skills achieved; the ability to tell the difference between a rock and a clump of mud and throwing stones really far. The sun is too hot. Stupid Australia."

The attack happened on Tuesday night at a hostel in Home Hill, a quiet coastal town about 97km south of the city of Townsville in north Queensland.

The 30-year-old British man is in hospital in a critical condition.

According to witnesses, the killer yelled "Allah Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great" - during the attack and after he was arrested.

"We don't have a motive yet," said Superintendent Ray Rohweder.

"Police were confronted with a terrible scene when they arrived. There were up to 30 people who witnessed the incident."

A local resident was also injured, but not seriously, and a dog that lived on the premises was killed.

Police said the Frenchman was legally in Australia on a temporary visa and was not known to authorities. He had been in Australia since March.

"This person appears to have acted alone," said Steve Gollschewski, Queensland's deputy commissioner.

"He is a visitor to Australia and appears to have no known local connections…This is a tragic incident."

Mr Gollschewski said police were investigating whether the attacker was motivated by Islamic extremism, adding: "We could be dealing with a pure criminal act or something related to mental health or drug issues."

Amy Browne (19), from the Gold Coast, who worked as a bartender at the Bedroom Lounge Bar where Ms Ayliffe-Chung was a waitress, said: "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. Our memories will be cherished forever and I know she'd want us all to stay positive in the darkest of times. Rest in peace, my beautiful friend, heaven has truly gained another angel."


On July 19, Ms Ayliffe-Chung wrote on Facebook about being away from her family and home: "The hardest thing living my dream, missing the important home things. Graduations, people in hospital, funerals and birthdays."

Tommy Martin (24), from Newbury, Berkshire, who met Ms Ayliffe-Chung in Bali before reuniting on the Gold Coast, said: "She was a free spirit who didn't have any set plans, but that's the way she loved it.

"I'm very shocked to see this and to be honest I've never known anyone to die so it's a bit much."

Mr Gollschewski said Ms Ayliffe-Chung was the first person to be attacked and that the incident was being treated as a murder case, not a terror attack.

Two police officers arrived and the attacker was then asked to lie on the ground before being arrested.

Police have informed British diplomats, who will attempt to contact the families.

Australia has experienced numerous attacks and plots by Islamic extremists in recent years, though they have typically involved local - and often Australian-born - citizens.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News