Boy, 15, stabs bishop, priest during a church service in Australia, police say

Church stabbing

SYDNEY, Australia — A 15-year-old boy is accused of stabbing a bishop and priest during a church service near Sydney, Australia, on Monday as horrified parishioners watched in person and during a livestream of the service, police said.

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The incident occurred two days after a man fatally stabbed six people in a busy shopping mall in Sydney before he was shot by police. Police are calling the incident a terrorist attack.

The incident occurred at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in suburban Wakeley, located west of Sydney, the BBC reported.

The New South Wales Police Force wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that officers responded at about 7:10 p.m. local time after receiving a call that “a number of people were stabbed.”

Police Commissioner Karen Webb said she determined the stabbing was a “terrorist incident” after “consideration of all the material,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism,” Webb told reporters. “And of course, the intimidation of the public through that person’s act by attending that church whilst it was being livestreamed intimidating not only the parishioners in attendance, but those parishioners who are watching online and subsequently, those people that turned up to the church on the outside and the subsequent riots that happened.”

A crowd numbering hundreds of people seeking revenge gathered outside the Orthodox Assyrian church, throwing bricks and bottles, according to The Associated Press. Their actions prevented police from initially removing the suspect from the church, the news organization reported.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, parish priest Isaac Royel, the teen and at least two police officers were hospitalized, Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Andrew Holland told reporters, the BBC reported.

None of the injuries were considered to be life-threatening, police said.

Webb added that the suspect had several fingers severed during the confusion, although it was unclear whether the boy’s injuries occurred during the attack or by the crowd that assembled at the church, the Morning Herald reported.

Police confirmed that the suspect underwent surgery after he was apprehended, according to the newspaper.

Wakeley Mayor Frank Carbone was among those calling for calm.

“I understand a lot of members in our community are really distraught but what is important is I believe that the bishop has been taken to hospital and should be OK,” he told Sky News Australia.