A mother and her four children are believed to be among the victims of a mass shooting in Australia.
Seven people – three adults and four children -were found dead with gunshot wounds at a property near the tourist town of Margaret River in Western Australia on Friday, police said.
Two guns were also found at the property in the village of Osmington after police were called at around 5.15am local time.
The incident, which some are speculating was a murder-suicide, is the worst mass shooting in Australia in 20 years.
The victims are believed to include Katrina Miles and her four children, aged eight to 13, as well as the children’s grandparents.
Police have not officially confirmed the indentites of the victims.
The three generations reportedly moved to Osmington in 2015 to grow fruit.
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Western Australia State Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the bodies of two adults were found outside the house and the rest were found inside. He said they all lived at the property.
“Police are currently responding to what I can only describe as a horrific incident,” Mr Dawson told reporters. This devastating tragedy will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community and, in particular, the local communities in our south-west.”
Police in Western Australia released a statement saying the process of formal identification was continuing.
They said the building on the property where the bodies were found is a shed that had been converted to living quarters.
Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia, described the events as “tragic and shocking”.
The events in our South West are tragic and shocking. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims, and also with the first responders and investigators as they piece together this tragic set of circumstances.
— Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowanMP) May 11, 2018
Local state MP Libby Mettam also sent “thoughts and prayers” to everyone affected, saying: “The community is in shock – this is devastating.”
The incident is the worst mass shooting in Australia since a lone gunman killed 35 in Tasmania in 1996.
The massacre prompted the nation to introduce tough gun controls, whose supporters include former US president Barack Obama.
Since then the only ‘mass shooting’ – four deaths excluding the shooter in a single event – in Australia was in 2014 when a farmer shot his wife and three children before killing himself.
Farmers are allowed to own guns under Australian law because they have a legitimate need to use them to kill feral pests and predators or sick or injured livestock.
Automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are banned from public ownership.
Samantha Lee, chair of the Gun Control Australia lobby group, said rural areas were over-represented in Australian gun deaths, including suicides.
She said: “Regional and rural areas are particularly vulnerable to these sorts of tragedies, because of the combination of isolation, sometimes mental or financial hardship and easy access to firearms.
“Although the details of this tragedy are yet to come to light, Australia has a tragic history of higher rate of gun deaths in rural areas.”