According to police, the stabbing of a bishop at a Sydney church was a “terrorist act.”

A bishop and a priest were stabbed in an alleged “terrorist act” at a Sydney church on Monday, sparking a riot, according to police, just two days after a mass stabbing in a busy shopping mall.

An alleged attacker was seen charging towards Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel as he presided over a livestreamed service at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the western suburb of Wakeley. Several parishioners immediately attempted to intervene, as screams could be heard throughout the church.

According to NSW police, members of the public restrained the alleged attacker at the scene. Police arrived and arrested the suspect, who was later identified as a 16-year-old boy. He was taken to the hospital and treated for injuries sustained during the attack. Initially, police stated that he was 15.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb told reporters on Tuesday that they believe the attack 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.

According to police, a 53-year-old man was cut on the head, and a 39-year-old man who attempted to intervene was injured with cuts and a shoulder wound. Both were treated by paramedics and transported to a hospital.

According to a statement from Christ The Good Shepherd Church, Bishop Emmanuel received several blows to the head and body. Father Isaac Royel, the parish priest, was also injured, but no one else was hurt inside the church, according to reports.

Charbel Saliba, the Deputy Mayor of Fairfield City, a western Sydney suburb, told CNN that Emmanuel was well-known in the area.

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

Riot erupts outside church

Video of the attack quickly circulated on social media, prompting angry members of the community to gather at the church, according to police. People threw objects at police cars, and footage captured the chaos.

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

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

According to NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan, paramedics and police were forced to retreat inside the church and remained there for three and a half hours while crowds rioted outside.

“This was a rapidly evolving situation in which crowds increased from 50 to hundreds of people in a very short period of time. “Our paramedics were directly under threat,” he stated.

“Six of our paramedics were unable to leave the facility for fear of their own safety.” I echo the police commissioner’s words. “This is outrageous.”

Morgan reported that NSW Ambulance treated 30 patients, seven of whom were taken to the hospital. Around twenty people were treated for the effects of pepper spray.

Police reported that 20 police vehicles had been damaged, with 10 deemed unusable.
The Church supported the police response, stating that officers took “necessary steps” when onlookers and visitors who had come to support the bishop refused “numerous” requests from police and clergy to leave.

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

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns described the scenes as “disturbing,” and he called a meeting late Monday of faith leaders from various religious communities in western Sydney.

The unnamed suspect was not on any terror watch list, according to Police Commissioner Webb. Police believe he was acting alone, but they emphasise that the investigation is still in its preliminary stages.

Webb stated that police had spoken with the boy’s parents, but she could not provide specifics of that conversation.

The incident occurred shortly after six people were killed and several others injured, including a 9-month-old baby, in a stabbing attack at Sydney’s Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday.

Australian police said Monday that Joel Cauchi, 40, the attacker in Bondi, may have been targeting women.

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

This story has been updated to reflect recent developments.

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