Bishop Stabbed in Sydney Church, 2 Days After Deadly Mall Attack

Bishop Stabbed in Sydney Church, 2 Days After Deadly Mall Attack

By Oghale Apr20,2024

A stabbing at a church in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, that left several people injured and unfolded during a livestreamed Mass was an act of terrorism, the authorities said on Tuesday.

A 15-year-old boy was arrested after the Monday evening stabbing at Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, Australia, which left multiple people injured, including the church’s bishop and priest, who both sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries, the New South Wales Police said. The attack came just two days after an unrelated deadly stabbing rampage at a crowded mall across town, rattling a city and country where such acts of violence are rare.

Karen Webb, police commissioner for New South Wales, said at a news conference on Tuesday that she had made the terrorism determination based on information that the attacker had gone to the church armed with a knife, showing “a degree of premeditation,” and religious comments he made while carrying out the attack seen on the livestream.

While she did not specify what those comments were, she said, “We believe there were elements satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism.” By carrying out the attack during the livestream, she said, the attacker had intimidated “not only the parishioners in attendance but those parishioners who were watching online.”

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, who was seriously injured during the attack, is part of an ultraconservative sect of the Assyrian Orthodox church. He is known to livestream his sermons online. During the pandemic, he opposed lockdowns and preached against Covid vaccinations. He has also often condemned L.G.B.T.Q. people.

The bishop and a priest were in surgery Tuesday morning, and are “lucky to be alive,” Ms. Webb said.

The teenager in custody, a 15-year-old boy, was also injured and underwent surgery, police said. He was known to police but had not been on any terrorism watch list, Ms. Webb said.

The attack touched off riots outside the church on Monday night, where a crowd grew from about 50 to several hundred in the hours following the attack, the police said. On social media video of the riots, some people in the crowd appeared to demand the attacker be brought out of the church. Some people turned on the authorities, hurtling bricks and pieces of concrete at police equipment and vehicles and forcing paramedics to shelter inside the church for more than three hours, the authorities said.

Two separate task forces were established to investigate the attack and the violent riot that ensued, Ms. Webb said.

Chris Minns, the premier of New South Wales, urged calm at Tuesday morning’s briefing and warned the public against any retaliatory violence. He said he had convened religious leaders who agreed there needed to be peace.

“Sydney and New South Wales is on edge, and there’s understandable community anxiety at the moment,” he said. “You will be met by the full force of the law if there’s any attempt for tit-for-tat violence in Sydney over the coming days.”

The attack at the church happened just after 7 p.m. on Monday. In all, seven people were transported to hospitals, emergency responders said.

A livestream of the service showed an assailant walking up to Bishop Emmanuel while he was addressing a crowd and stabbing him on his head and neck repeatedly in rapid succession. Cries and screams can be heard from others in the church.

Two officers were injured and police vehicles sustained damage, the police said. One officer was hit by a metal object and had a “twisted knee and a chipped tooth,” they said, while another officer had a broken jaw after being hit with a brick and a piece of fence.

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By Oghale

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