World News

Sydney church stabbing declared a ‘terrorist attack’

  • By Tiffanie Turnbull and Simon Atkinson
  • BBC News, Sydney

Video caption, Watch: Police disperse hundreds of protesters gathered outside church after stabbing attack

Australian police have called Monday’s stabbing attack at a Sydney church a religiously motivated “terrorist act.”

A 16-year-old boy was arrested after a bishop, priest and worshipers were attacked during mass at the Assyrian Church of Christ the Good Shepherd.

At least four people suffered “non-life-threatening” injuries, according to police. The attacker was also injured.

The incident was captured during a livestream from a church and quickly sparked unrest in the suburb of Wakeley.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Assyrian Orthodox church – about 35km southwest of the city center – and clashed with police. Two police officers were injured, one with a broken jaw after being hit with a brick and a fence. Twenty police vehicles were also damaged, 10 of which became unusable.

Likewise, the violence forced the paramedics to retreat and hide in the church, where they remained “locked in” for more than three hours.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called an emergency meeting of national security agencies, calling the attack “worrying”.

“We are a peace-loving nation…There is no place for violent extremism.”

The authorities are concerned about the role of social media, he added, “in particular by the publication of videos which can be very harmful, especially for young people”.

Wanting to quell any further violence, he urged people “not to take the law into their own hands”.

Speaking to media on Tuesday morning, New South Wales (NSW) Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the bishop and priest were undergoing surgery and were “lucky to be envy “.

The bishop was named by local media as Mar Mari Emmanuel. Ordained in 2011, he is considered a popular and controversial figure and his sermons have been viewed millions of times on social media.

Australian police define terrorist offenses as ideologically motivated. Investigations are still ongoing, Ms Webb said, but investigators are convinced it is a case of religious extremism.

The teenager allegedly made comments to the bishop as he approached that were “religion-centered”, and police believe staging the attack during a live-streamed service was intended “to intimidate not only (the) parishioners present, but also the parishioners who were present. watch online.

Commissioner Webb said the suspect was acting alone and, although “known to police”, was not on any terrorist watchlist.

The alleged attacker also underwent surgery after his fingers were injured, police said, but it is unclear whether he was injured with his own weapon or when he was apprehended by the congregation.

Legend, Bishop allegedly stabbed while delivering live-streamed sermon

The incident occurred just days after the nation was shocked by another, unrelated knife attack at a popular Sydney shopping center that left seven people dead.

“NSW is on its last legs and there is understandable anxiety in the community at the moment,” state Premier Chris Minns said. He called for calm, echoing calls from religious and community leaders.

“Their message to their communities was universal and consistent, that they deplore violence in all its forms (and) that they have confidence in the NSW Police to undertake their investigation,” Ms. .

A strike force has also been set up to investigate the unrest, Ms Webb said. “Those involved in the riot can expect a knock at the door… We will find you and we will come and arrest you,” she added.

The head of NSW Ambulance also described the crowd’s behavior as “outrageous”.

“Our people, who are just caring and helping every day, need to know that they have the support of the community. If they don’t… who will come and do this work?”

The Wakeley neighborhood is a hub for Sydney’s small Assyrian Christian community, many of whom fled persecution and war in Iraq and Syria.

Bishop Emmanuel is a prominent leader in this community and is one of the “kindest, (most) genuine, genuine human beings,” said local member Dai Le.

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