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16-Year-Old Boy Stabs Bishop, Others During Church Service

Police label the stabbing of a bishop at a Sydney church as a “terrorist act.”

Just two days after a mass stabbing in a crowded shopping mall rocked the Australian metropolis, police reported that a bishop and a priest were stabbed in an alleged “terrorist act” in a Sydney cathedral, sparking a riot on Monday.

At Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the Wakeley suburb on the west side, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was officiating a livestreamed service when he noticed an alleged attacker approaching him. Sounds of cries filled the church as some parishioners tried to step in right away.

According to New South Wales police, members of the public restrained the suspected attacker there. Following the arrival of police, the suspect—later revealed to be a 16-year-old boy—was taken into prison and had surgery to treat his injuries from the incident. At first, the police claimed he was 15.

According to NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb, who spoke with reporters on Tuesday, authorities think the incident was planned.

“We will allege [the suspect] attended that church armed with a knife and stabbed the bishop and priest … We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism,” she said.

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According to authorities, a 39-year-old guy who was hurt after trying to interfere also sustained wounds and a shoulder wound in addition to a 53-year-old male who sustained injuries to his head. Paramedics attended to both and transported them to the hospital.

“They are lucky to be alive,” Webb said.

Bishop Emmanuel sustained multiple strikes to the head and body, according to a statement from Christ The Good Shepherd Church. It stated that no one else was hurt inside the church, but parish priest Father Isaac Royel was hurt as well.

Emmanuel was well-known in the neighborhood, according to Charbel Saliba, the deputy mayor of Fairfield City, a suburb of western Sydney, who spoke with CNN.

While the bishop was bleeding, “he put his hand on the man that stabbed him and said something like, ‘May the Lord Jesus Christ Save you,’” Saliba said, citing a witness.

Breakout outside the church

Social media users saw the incident on camera, and police reported that this infuriated the community, leading them to gather around the church. People were hurling things at police cars in the chaotic scenes captured on camera.

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

“People converged on that area and began to turn on police. People used what was available to them in the area, including bricks, concrete, palings, to assault police and throw missiles at police, and police equipment, and police vehicles,” Webb said.

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

“This was a rapidly evolving situation where the crowds went from 50 to hundreds of people in a very rapid period of time. Our paramedics became directly under threat,” he said.

“Six of our paramedics could not leave that facility for fear of their own safety. I echo the words of the police commissioner. This is outrageous.”

According to Morgan, NSW Ambulance attended to thirty patients, seven of whom were admitted to the hospital. Twenty or so people received pepper spray treatment.

Ten of the roughly 20 damaged police cars were declared useless, according to the authorities.

The Church supported the police response in a statement, claiming that when spectators and guests who had come to show their support for the bishop rejected “numerous” pleas from the police and clergy to leave, the officers had to take “necessary steps.”

The Church “categorizes this attack as isolated” and “denounces retaliation of any kind,” it added.

Premier of New South Wales Chris Minns called the sights “disturbing,” and late on Monday, he called a meeting of religious leaders from various faiths in western Sydney.

According to Police Commissioner Webb, the unidentified individual was not on any terror watch lists. Police stated that although they think he was acting alone, their investigation is still in its early phases.

Webb stated that the police had discussed the boy’s case with his parents, but she was unable to give specifics of that discussion.

The event occurs soon after a stabbing attack at Sydney’s Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday that left six people dead and numerous more injured, including a 9-month-old infant.

Australian police reported on Monday that Joel Cauchi, the 40-year-old attacker in Bondi, may have targeted women.

Five women were among those killed in that attack. Twelve others were injured, eight of whom remained in the hospital Monday in conditions ranging from stable to critical.

This story has been updated with further developments by CNN


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