Date
26 September 2017
A woman hugs her baby during a memorial service for eight children killed in their home in the Australian city of Cairns. Photo: Reuters
A woman hugs her baby during a memorial service for eight children killed in their home in the Australian city of Cairns. Photo: Reuters

Australian woman charged with murder of eight children

Australian prosecutors have charged a woman with the murder of eight children two days after their bodies were found in a home in Cairns.

Seven of the dead were her children. Another was a niece, Reuters reported Monday.

Police said the 37-year-old woman was charged in a bedside hearing in a Cairns hospital where she is recovering from stab wounds.

The victims, four girls and four boys, were aged 18 months to 15 years.

The five fathers of the children had been informed, according to police.

They are investigating whether drug use was involved in the tragedy.

Police have taken more than 100 witness statements and autopsies of the children, expected to be completed later on Sunday, the report said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the events in Cairns “heartbreaking” and acknowledged the “trying days” for Australia.

As services and memorials continued for the victims of the Sydney siege over the weekend, relatives and friends of the children gathered at a makeshift shrine of flowers near their home in the Cairns suburb of Manoora.

Police did not identify the woman, citing the need to protect the identity of the children.

The Cairns family were members of the Torres Strait Islander community, a group of indigenous Australians viewed as distinct from the broader Aboriginal community due to their origins on islands off the tropical Queensland coast.

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