Sydney church stabbing declared a terrorist attack by authorities, 15-year-old boy arrested

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Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.

16th April 2024 – (Sydney) The New South Wales Police Commissioner, Karen Webb, has officially declared the overnight stabbing at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Sydney as a terrorist act. The attack, which resulted in the stabbing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and a parish priest, has sent shockwaves through the community and prompted a robust response from law enforcement agencies.

Speaking at a press conference in Surry Hills, Commissioner Webb stated that the decision to classify the attack as terrorism came after thorough “consideration of all the material” available to the police. The gravity of the situation was highlighted by her warning to those in the community who reacted with hostility towards police at the scene, promising that justice would reach their doorsteps soon.

The aftermath of the attack has seen a heightened police presence in the area around the church, located in the suburb of Wakeley. Cleanup efforts were underway as early as Tuesday morning, with church members and local residents seen clearing debris and broken glass from the premises. The scene has attracted significant media attention, with forensic officers actively collecting evidence and engaging with visibly shaken local residents.

Amidst this tense atmosphere, Fairfield MP David Saliba was also present, focusing on community reassurance. “Everyone deserves to be safe, and that is paramount,” Saliba emphasised, reflecting the sentiment of a community trying to find its feet after the traumatic event.

The incident has drawn comments from the highest levels of government, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese addressing the nation’s concerns in a press briefing at Parliament House. Joined by the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Reece Kershaw, and the Director-General of Security of ASIO, Mike Burgess, Albanese acknowledged the public’s unease but reassured that the authorities are fully engaged in handling the situation.

“I understand that people are feeling uneasy, and that’s understandable given the atrocity that occurred on Saturday and then this incident last night,” the Prime Minister stated. He further reinforced his confidence in the capabilities of both the New South Wales Police and the Australian Federal Police.

Emphasising Australia’s generally harmonious societal fabric, Albanese called for unity and mutual respect among Australians of all faiths. “It is vital in my view that we continue to stress what unites us, and that respect for each other be maintained at all times,” he remarked, highlighting the need for solidarity in the face of such divisive acts.

According to an update from Australian police, a 15-year-old boy has been apprehended in connection with the incident.

Andrew Holland, the acting assistant commissioner of New South Wales, mentioned that the suspect sustained hand injuries and is currently receiving medical treatment. Following the incident, the authorities have taken the suspect to a secure location due to the unrest it caused within the community.

Earlier, authorities had informed the public about an ongoing “large police response” and advised them to stay away from the Wakeley area, a suburb located approximately 30 kilometers west of Sydney’s central business district.

Eyewitnesses reported that a significant crowd swiftly gathered outside Christ the Good Shepherd Church after the attack. These individuals began pelting rocks at the police and demanded that the perpetrator be brought out.