Home World Prime Minister Anthony Albanese convenes security cabinet meeting over Sydney church ‘terrorist act’

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese convenes security cabinet meeting over Sydney church ‘terrorist act’

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese convenes security cabinet meeting over Sydney church ‘terrorist act’


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has convened a meeting of the national security subcommittee after an alleged terrorist act in Sydney’s south-west on Monday night.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel sustained lacerations to his head after being lunged at during a mass service at Assyrian Orthodox Church Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley that was being broadcast online.

The 53-year-old underwent surgery and a 39-year-old man also sustained cuts and a shoulder injury while attempting to intervene, NSW Police say.

A person stands on top of a police car at night as a group of other people surround the car.

Dozens of people arrived at the scene after the attack in the church.(ABC News: ABC News )

A 16-year-old who police say was known but not “well-known” to them was arrested at the scene after being held down by members of the church, and was also hospitalised for finger injuries.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb declared the stabbing a “terrorist incident” early on Tuesday morning in a move supported by ASIO.

“This is a major and serious criminal investigation, it is crucial that NSW Police are able to devote their resources and intelligence as well as officers to the investigation of this crime,” Premier Chris Minns said.

a bishop at an assyrian orthodox church during a service before a person approaches and allegedley stabs him

The incident occurred at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley.(ABC News)

Mr Albanese, Deputy Prime Minster Richard Marles, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and other senior cabinet members, alongside heads of the ADF and ASIO, met in Canberra on Tuesday.

At least two police officers were injured after crowds who had assembled after the incident smashed police cars in violent scenes.

Commissioner Webb said an “uncontrolled” crowd surge of between 50 to 500 people formed after the stabbing, against “police officers … doing their job”.

Police said projectiles were thrown at officers, vehicles were damaged and property stolen during the “public order incident”.

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“We’ve had police injured and taken to hospital overnight, and we’ve had many, many police vehicles damaged … and 10 are unusable,” Commissioner Webb said.

“Police attended the incident at Wakeley last night to assist the community in response to calls for assistance and the crowd turned on police.”

NSW Ambulance said it attended to 30 patients in the crowd, but that paramedics “became directly under threat” and were forced to retreat into the church.

“They holed up in that church for three-and-a-half hours, six of our paramedics could not leave that facility for fear of their own safety and from the community that they serve,” NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan said.

Prime minister asks public to let police do their job

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Mr Albanese said there was no place for violence in Australia.

“I understand that people are feeling uneasy, and that’s understandable … given the atrocity that occurred on Saturday and then this incident last night,” he said.

“I discussed this with Premier Minns this morning as well, and part of us standing up here is to reassure the public that the authorities are doing their work.

A crowd of people bathed in red light stand in a street at night.

A large crowd of people assembled outside the church after a teenager allegedly attacked a bishop inside.(ABC News: ABC News )

“I have every faith in the New South Wales Police, in the Australian Federal Police, in our security agencies, to do their work.”

He also called on the public to not “impede and injure police doing their duty”.

“People should not take the law into their own hands. But should allow our police and our security agencies, to do their job.”

Referring to the case of a person being wrongly identified as the culprit in the attack, the prime minister said people should respond with calm.

“We remain concerned about the role of social media, including the publication of videos that can be very harmful, particularly for younger people who have access,” Mr Albanese said.

“I think that on Saturday we saw some of the best of human character at the same time as we saw such devastating tragedy.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said the government had his full support. 

“I’ve written to the Prime Minister this morning offering the full support of the Coalition, on any issues that the government think might need to be addressed,” he said. 

He called for calm particularly “from young people”.

“It doesn’t matter if you disagree with a priest vehemently, or an imam, a rabbi, with any person, violence is never the answer,” he said. 

Church attack did ‘appear to be religiously motivated’

a damaged police car after an alleged stabbing incident at wakeley

Two officers were injured and a number of vehicles were damaged during the unrest.(ABC News )

The prime minister said he had been briefed by Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Reece Kershaw and by the national intelligence agency chief Mike Burgess.

Mr Burgess said the attack did “appear to be religiously motivated” but said that lines of investigation were ongoing. 

“At the same time, our job is to look at individuals connected with the attacker to assure ourselves there’s no-one else in the community with similar intent,” he said.

“At this stage, we have no indications of that. But it’s prudent that we do this to determine there are no threats or immediate threats to security.”

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The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Reverend Anthony Fisher said in a statement that every person in Australia “be they bishop or priest, rabbi or imam, minister or congregant” should be able to worship without fear of violence.

“Houses of prayer have traditionally been places of peace and solace, refuge and sanctuary and so the video footage of the attack upon a religious leader during a religious service inside a church has been especially confronting,” he said.

“I urge the faithful to not respond to these events with fear, avoiding places of worship because they are worried about further attacks, nor with anger, engaging in acts of reprisal or revenge.”



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