Knife Attack at Sydney Church Declared ‘Terrorist Act’ by Cops

A bishop and a priest were victims of a stabbing during what was deemed a “terrorist act” at a church in Sydney, sparking a riot on Monday, according to police statements. This incident occurred just two days after a mass stabbing at a shopping mall in the same city.

During a service at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, which was being livestreamed, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was approached by an alleged attacker. Several parishioners quickly tried to intervene, and screams echoed throughout the church.

Local police report that bystanders detained the suspect at the scene. Police responded promptly, arresting the suspect, a 16-year-old boy, and transporting him to the hospital for surgical treatment of injuries sustained during the incident.

The New South Wales Police Commissioner, Karen Webb, indicated in a press briefing on Tuesday that the assault was likely premeditated.

Webb stated, “The suspect entered the church with a knife and attacked both the bishop and priest. We see evidence suggesting the motive could be religiously motivated extremism.”

Two men, ages 53 and 39, were injured during the incident: the older sustained cuts to his head, while the younger suffered cuts and a shoulder injury.

Both received immediate medical attention and were hospitalized. “They are fortunate to be alive,” said Webb.

Christ The Good Shepherd Church released a statement saying Bishop Emmanuel sustained multiple injuries to his head and body. Parish priest Father Isaac Royel was also injured, though no other individuals inside the church were harmed.

Charbel Saliba, Deputy Mayor of Fairfield City, a suburb of western Sydney, mentioned that Emmanuel was well-known in the local community.

While the bishop was bleeding, “he placed his hand on the man who stabbed him and said something like, ‘May the Lord Jesus Christ save you,’” as recounted by a witness.

The incident triggered a riot outside the church. Video of the attack quickly spread on social media, leading to a large crowd gathering at the church, where they began throwing objects at police vehicles, as described in police reports.

Commissioner Webb condemned the violent reaction of the crowd that assembled shortly after the arrival of police and emergency responders, describing their behavior as “completely unacceptable.”

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

According to NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan, paramedics and police had to take shelter inside the church due to the escalating violence outside, remaining there for several hours.

“This was a rapidly evolving situation where the crowd swelled from 50 to hundreds of people in a very short period. Our paramedics were directly under threat,” he said.

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

Morgan reported that 30 people were treated by paramedics, with seven requiring hospitalization, many affected by pepper spray.

Approximately 20 police vehicles were damaged during the riot, with half being rendered unusable.

In its response, the Church supported the police’s actions, noting that the measures taken were necessary as people ignored repeated requests to disperse.

The Church emphasized that the attack should be viewed as an isolated incident and strongly opposed any form of retaliation.

The young suspect had not been previously identified on any terror watch lists, and police believe he acted independently, with the investigation still in its early stages, Commissioner Webb noted. Further details regarding discussions with the boy’s parents were not disclosed.

This recent violence follows another tragic event where six people, including five women, were fatally stabbed at Westfield Bondi Junction, with several others injured, including a baby.

The suspected assailant in this earlier attack was identified as Joel Cauchi, 40, who police suspect may have targeted women.