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Police declare Sydney church stabbing a terror attack ‘motivated by religious extremism’



Police in Australia have declared that they are treating a knife attack at a church in Sydney as a terrorist act motivated by suspected religious extremism.

On Monday, April 15, New South Wales police officers detained a 16-year-old boy who is accused of stabbing a bishop and injuring three others during a sermon at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Sydney’s Wakeley district.

It was the second knife assault to rock Sydney in three days and has sparked riots and unrest in Australia’s largest city.

The shocking attack, which was being live-streamed on YouTube by church cameras, occured while Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was preaching on Monday afternoon.

The bishop was speaking from the altar when a male dressed in a dark hoodie showed up and suddenly lunged at him, stabbing the elderly clergyman’s head and neck.

The alleged attacker was reportedly smirking at horrified onlookers as he was pinned down after wounding Bishop Emmanuel, Father Isaac Royel, and two others.

Police arrested the attacker at the scene and were forced to hold him at the church for his own safety after a crowd gathered outside and demanded the attacker be brought out.

At a press conference early on Tuesday morning in Sydney, NSW Commissioner Karen Webb said: ‘I declared that it was a terrorist incident… We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism.’

She added: ‘Strike Force Petrina has been established to investigate that side of the events last night and a referral has been made and agreed to by the joint counterterrorism investigation team that we will work jointly with NSW police lead, with AFP and other Commonwealth agencies in this investigation.’

Christ The Good Shepherd Church revealed both Bishop Emmanuel and Father Isaac were in a ‘stable condition’. The suspect is also being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Premier Chris Minns also warned vigilantes after violent riots were sparked by the stabbing which resulted in 30 people treated by paramedics.

‘There is no such thing in Australia in taking the law into your own hands.

You will be met by the full force of the law if there is any tit for tat violence in Sydney over the coming days.’

Commissioner Webb said 20 police cars were damaged in the riots.

‘The police officers, of which there were many, acted courageously to protect that community, witnesses, victims, and the ambulance officers,’ she said.

‘They went there to do their job last night and they were turned on.”

NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dom Morgan slammed rioters who forced ambulance officers to fear for their safety.

‘Paramedics became under threat and … had to retreat into the church.

‘The officers that serve this community and police every single day were holed up in that church for three-and-a-half hours.

‘Six of our paramedics could not leave that facility for fear of their own safety.’

AC Holland said at a press briefing today that the 16-year-old suspect is ‘known to police’ and that investigators have spoken to him.

‘Police have initially spoken to the young person again, his injuries are quite severe in his hand,’ he said, adding: ‘He’s fairly upset and very distraught.

‘He’s asked to speak to his parents at this stage and we’re making arrangements with his parents to make contact with him.’

AC Holland added: ‘Police are obviously making sure that that young person is safe and, obviously with the action of the parishioners and obviously the local community, there was concerns for his safety.

‘Hence, the decision was made to detain him in the in the church until later in the night.’

The senior cop was also asked about rumours that the alleged assailant’s fingers had been chopped off in revenge.

‘Reports are that he has injuries to his hands – I don’t know the extent of those injuries at this point,’ Acting Assistant Commissioner Holland said.

He added: ‘His injuries are quite severe in his hand, he’s fairly upset and fairly distraught.’

He also praised the churchgoers who jumped into action amid the horrifying attack.

‘The parishioners did a fantastic job subduing him after he stabbed the two clergy members,’ he said.

The deplorable attack comes just two days after a knifeman cut down six people in ruthless killing spree just 20 miles away in an eastern Sydney suburb.

Joel Cauchi, 40, stabbed five women and one man to death and injured 12 others with a 30cm hunting knife in Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday afternoon, before being shot dead by New South Wales Police Inspector Amy Scott.

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