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Sydney church stabbing: Attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel a ‘terrorist act,’ police say


Sydney
CNN

A bishop and a priest were stabbed in a suspected “terrorist act” at a Sydney church that sparked a riot on Monday, police said, just two days after the Australian city was rocked by a massive attack in knife in a busy shopping center.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was presiding over a live-streamed service at Christ The Good Shepherd Church, in the western suburbs of Wakeley, when an alleged attacker was seen charging towards him. Several parishioners immediately tried to intervene as screams were heard in the church.

Members of the public subdued the alleged attacker at the scene, according to New South Wales Police. Police then arrived and arrested the suspect, later identified as a 16-year-old boy, who was taken into custody to hospital and underwent surgery for injuries sustained during the attack. Police initially said he was 15 years old.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb told reporters on Tuesday that police believed the attack was premeditated.

“We allege that (the suspect) went to this church armed with a knife and stabbed the bishop and the priest… We believe there are elements satisfied in terms of religiously motivated extremism ” she said.

Australian Jewish Association/Twitter

A live stream of the service appears to show Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel being attacked.

A 53-year-old man suffered cuts to the head and a 39-year-old man, injured after trying to intervene, suffered cuts and a shoulder injury, police said. Both were treated by emergency services and transported to hospital.

“They’re lucky to be alive,” Webb said.

In a statement, the Church of Christ the Good Shepherd said Bishop Emmanuel suffered several blows to the head and body. The parish priest, Father Isaac Royel, was also injured, but no one else inside the church was injured, the statement said.

Charbel Saliba, deputy mayor of Fairfield City, a western suburb of Sydney, told CNN that Emmanuel was well known in the local community.

As the bishop bled, “he put his hand on the man who had stabbed him and said something like, ‘May the Lord Jesus Christ save you,'” Saliba said, quoting a witness.

Video of the attack quickly spread on social media, prompting angry community members to converge on the church, police said. The footage showed chaotic scenes where people threw objects at police cars.

Webb, the police commissioner, condemned the “uncontrolled” crowd that gathered shortly after officers and first responders arrived on the scene, calling their conduct “totally unacceptable.”

“People converged on this area and started turning against the police. People used what was available to them in the area, including bricks, concrete, fences, to attack the police and throw missiles at the police, as well as at police equipment and vehicles. , Webb said.

New South Wales Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan said paramedics and police were forced to retreat inside the church, where they remained holed up for three and a half hours as the Crowd rioted outside.

“This was a rapidly evolving situation where crowds grew from 50 to hundreds of people in a very rapid period of time. Our paramedics were directly threatened,” he said.

“Six of our paramedics were unable to leave this facility due to fear for their own safety. I echo the words of the police commissioner. It’s scandalous.”

NSW Ambulance treated 30 patients, Morgan said, seven of whom were taken to hospital. About 20 of them were treated for the effects of pepper spray.

Around 20 police vehicles were damaged, 10 of which were deemed unusable, police said.

In its statement, the Church supported the police response, saying officers took “necessary measures” when onlookers and visitors who came to express their support for the bishop refused “numerous” requests to leave the police and clergy.

The Church “qualifies this attack as isolated” and “denounces any form of reprisal,” she adds.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said the scenes were “disturbing” and he called a meeting of religious leaders representing different faith communities in western Sydney on Monday evening.

The suspect, who has not been named, was not on any terrorist watch list, Police Commissioner Webb said. Police believe he acted alone, but stressed the investigation was in its early stages.

Webb said police spoke with the boy’s parents, but she could not provide specific details about that conversation.

The incident comes shortly after six people were killed and several others injured, including a 9-month-old baby, in a stabbing attack at Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney on Saturday.

Australian police said Monday that Bondi’s attacker, Joel Cauchi, 40, may have targeted women.

Five women were among those killed in the attack. Twelve other people were injured, eight of whom remained in hospital Monday in stable to critical condition.

This story has been updated with other developments.

News Source : amp.cnn.com
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