Sydney church knife attack against bishop and priest are acts of terrorism, police say

Stabbings in Sydney that wounded a bishop and a priest during a church service was a terrorist attack motivated by suspected religious extremism, police in Australia said.

At least two task forces have been established to look into the incident after a 16-year-old male attacker lunged at Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at the Christ Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley. Three others, including a priest, were wounded during the service as horrified worshippers watched online and in person.

While one task force will look into the background of the attacker, the other will work to identify those in the rioting mob that attacked a number of police officers and paramedics responding to the scene, reported

This comes as New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said the suspect’s comments pointed to a religious motive for the attack.

“We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism,” she told a press conference.

“After consideration of all the material, I declared that it was a terrorist incident.

“We’ll allege there’s a degree of premeditation on the basis that this person has travelled to that location, which is not near his residential address, he has travelled with a knife and subsequently the bishop and the priest have been stabbed,” Ms Webb said, adding that the teenager was known to the police but was not on a terror watch list.

“They’re lucky to be alive,” she said, referring to the church clerics.

The incident at the western Sydney suburb of Wakeley triggered clashes outside the church between police and an angry crowd of the bishop’s followers who demanded the attacker be handed over to them, as they hurled bricks and bottles.

As a result, the police were forced to hold him at the church for his own safety as the crowd of worshippers gathered outside. The teen suspect and two police officers were hospitalised, said acting assistant police commissioner Andrew Holland.

He commended the congregation for subduing the teen before calling police. He also said the teen suffered “severe” injuries to his hand.

More than 100 police reinforcements arrived before the teen was taken from the church in the hours-long incident. Several police vehicles were damaged, Mr Holland said.

“A number of houses have been damaged. They’ve broken into a number of houses to gain weapons to throw at the police. They’ve thrown weapons and items at the church itself. There were obviously people who wanted to get access to the young person who caused the injuries to the clergy people,” he said.

Condemning the violent attack on the police, Australian Federal Police commissioner Reece Kershaw called the response “un-Australian”.

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