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​8 children killed in northern Australian city

Police at scene of killing of 8 children and stabbing of woman thought to be mother of 7 of them in a home in northern Australian city of Cairns on December 19, 2014

Ian Hitchcock, Getty Images

SYDNEY -- Eight dead children and a woman suffering from stab wounds were found inside a home in a northern Australian city on Friday, police said.

Queensland state police said they were called to the home in the Cairns suburb of Manoora Friday morning after receiving a report of a woman with serious injuries. When police got to the house, they found the bodies of the children inside, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years.

A 34-year-old woman found inside the home was suffering from stab wounds to the chest, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said.

Police believe she is the mother of seven of the children, and the eighth child is believed to be one of her relatives, Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said. She was receiving treatment for her injuries and was in stable condition at a hospital.

Police said she was helping them in their investigation, the Reuters news agency reports.

Asnicar declined to say how the children died. Forensic teams were still inside the home collecting evidence.

"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," Asnicar said. "The situation is well controlled at the moment. There shouldn't be any concern for anyone else out of this environment."

Officials had not yet identified any suspects, but were talking to a range of people, he said.

"Everybody who's had any involvement at all in the past two or three days is a person of interest," Asnicar said.

Acting Chief Superintendent Russell Miller said officials believe it was an isolated incident and there was no threat to the rest of the community.

According to Reuters, media outlets reported the neighborhood "was predominantly inhabited by indigenous Aboriginal Australians, and was known by residents to have a high crime rate."

Lisa Thaiday, who said she was the injured woman's cousin, said one of the 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," Thaiday said. "We're a big family ... I just can't believe it. We just found out (about) those poor babies."

The street has been cordoned off and a crime scene will remain in place for at least the next day, Asnicar said.

Dozens of police descended on the home, and 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," Ascinar said.

The tragedy comes as Australia is still reeling from the shock of a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe earlier this week. On Monday, a gunman burst into a cafe in the heart of the city and took 18 people inside hostage. Two hostages were killed along with the gunman after police stormed in 16 hours later in a bid to end the siege.

"The news out of Cairns is heartbreaking," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement. "All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime. These are trying days for our country."