A MOTHER was last night arrested after eight children were found stabbed to death in a family home in the northern state of Queensland, Australia.
The woman, named locally as Raina Thaiday, was under guard at a hospital in the northern city of Cairns yesterday.
She is the mother of seven of the children found dead in the house. The eighth child was her niece.
Police have not said how the children died, but Queensland police Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said they were examining several knives in the home that may have been the weapon used to kill the children.
The woman, also known as Mersane Warria, was found in the home with the children, suffering from stab wounds to the chest. Mr Asnicar said yesterday she was lucid and talking to police.
The children ranged in age from 18 months to 14 years.
Neighbours said one of her other sons, a 20-year-old, had reported the scene of carnage to police.
It was understood some children who usually stayed there in the mainly aboriginal community were at school when the tragedy happened.
Earlier Det Insp Bruno Asnicar confirmed they did not believe a killer was still at large, but refused to say if any suspects had been identified .
He said: “As it stands at the moment, there’s no need for the public to be concerned about this, other than the fact that it’s a tragic, tragic event.
“The situation is well controlled at the moment. There shouldn’t be any concern for anyone else out of this environment.”
Specialist officers were being sent from Brisbane, the state capital, to assist with the investigation, he said. When asked about the number of dead, he said: “I believe there are eight … the scene has been locked down and that may go up or down.”
Dozens of forensic officers in protective clothing made their way in and out of the house yesterday.
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A large tent was erected to the front of the building and cones blocked off areas of the road while scores of vans, cars and a command unit were parked along the usually quiet residential street.
Bunches of flowers were laid against the wooden fence in tribute. Neighbours also held a candlelit vigil overnight for the family.
Lisa Thaiday, who said she was the mother’s cousin, said one of the injured woman’s other sons, a 20-year-old, came home and found his brothers and sisters dead inside the house.
“I’m going to see him now – he needs comforting,” Ms Thaiday said.
“We’re a big family. I just can’t believe it. We just found out (about) those poor babies.”
A crime scene will remain in place while detectives carry out their inquiries.
Family liaison officers were deployed to the area to help comfort relatives and neighbours distressed by the tragedy.
They were also getting ready to begin a “community recovery plan”, used to help people get over such traumatic events and including first responders from the emergency services. Junior police officers were receiving counselling.
Dozens of officers descended on the home as crowds of locals stood outside the police barricades, some of them wiping away tears. “These events are extremely distressing for everyone of course and police officers aren’t immune from that – we’re human beings as well,” Mr Ascinar said.
The tragedy comes as Australia is still reeling from the shock of a deadly siege in a Sydney café earlier this week.
A gunman burst into the Lindt premises in the heart of the city on Monday and took 18 people inside hostage.
Two hostages were killed along with the gunman after police stormed the building 16 hours later in a bid to end the siege.
Of the latest tragedy, prime minister Tony Abbott said yesterday: “The news out of Cairns is heartbreaking. All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime.”
He added: “These are trying days for our country.”
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