Emergency rescue personnel can be seen near the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne, Australia. Picture: AAP/James Ross/via Reuters
Emergency rescue personnel can be seen near the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne, Australia. Picture: AAP/James Ross/via Reuters
Policemen block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne. Picture: Sonali Paul/Reuters
Policemen block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne. Picture: Sonali Paul/Reuters
Police officers block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne, Australia. Picture: Sonali Paul/Reuters
Police officers block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne, Australia. Picture: Sonali Paul/Reuters
Police officers block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne. Picture: Sonali Paul/Reuters
Police officers block members of the public from walking towards the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne. Picture: Sonali Paul/Reuters
A policeman stands near a body covered with a sheet near the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne, Australia. Picture: AAP/James Ross/via Reuters
A policeman stands near a body covered with a sheet near the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne, Australia. Picture: AAP/James Ross/via Reuters

Sydney/Melbourne - Several people were stabbed in the Australian city of Melbourne on Friday and a man was arrested after an incident in the centre of the city crowded with pedestrians and shoppers.

"Police initially responded to a report of a car on fire ... a man was arrested at the scene and has been taken to hospital under police guard in a critical condition," Victoria state police said in a statement.

"A small number of people are being treated for stab wounds."

Further details are unclear however video posted to Twitter and broadcast on television showed a man repeatedly swinging an object at two police officers. One of the officers raises his weapon, a shot is heard and the man falls to the ground clutching his chest.

Victoria's ambulance service said that three injured people were being treated at the scene. A Reuters witness said that the city centre was closed off by police and that dozens of officers were patrolling.

It is not clear if the incident is terror-related. Australia has been on heightened alert from 2015 for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East.

The street where the car caught fire was the scene in January 2017 of a fatal but not terror-related incident in which a man drove his car at pedestrians at high speed, killing six people and wounding about 30.

Reuters