Australian police reported Friday that eight children have been killed and an injured woman had been arrested in the Australian state of Queensland.
Police in Queensland issued a statement about the mass stabbing, which took place in the city of Cairns. According to Matt Siegel of Reuters, police responded to reports of a woman having serious injuries in a house located in the Cairns suburb of Manoora just before midday.
"There is no formal suspect," Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said to reporters.
However, CNN reported that according to Asnicar, that woman was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Asnicar added that police believed the 34-year-old woman was the mother of seven of the children. The grisly crime scene had been locked down by forensics officers, and the children, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years old according to Jason Molinet of New York Daily News, have not been formally identified.
"We are talking to a wide range of people, Asnicar said. "Anybody who has had any involvement in the past two or three days is a person of interest."
Police said that the woman, who suffered stab wounds to the chest, was taken to hospital and is currently in stable condition under police guard. Police also said that the woman was helping them with their investigation.
According to New York Daily News, the woman's cousin, Lisa Thaiday, claimed the children were siblings and the woman was their mother. Thaiday mentioned that another sibling, a 20-year-old man, found his dead brothers and sisters inside the house.
"I'm going to see him now, he needs comforting," Thaiday said. "We're a big family ... I just can't believe it. We just found out (about) those poor babies."
The mass stabbing came at a time of heighted security alert in the island continent. Although there was no connection between the two events, Reuters reported that police in Sydney stormed a café early on Tuesday to end a 16-hour hostage standoff that left three people dead, including the hostage-taker.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that these were "trying days" for his country, adding that the events in Cairns were "heartbreaking."
"All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened," Abbott said in a media release. "This is an unspeakable crime. Tonight, there will be tears and prayers across our country for these children."
In the meantime, police back in Cairns urged for calm.
"There is no need for the public to be concerned about this, other than it is a tragic, tragic event," Asnicar said. "The situation is well controlled at the moment and there shouldn't be any concerns for anyone else."
According to local media reports in Australia, the neighborhood where the mass stabbing occurred was predominantly inhabited by indigenous Aboriginal Australians. Residents there noted that the area had a high crime rate.