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Violent stabbing spree sends Sydneysiders into horror

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-04-14 00:25

Police patrol near the crime scene in front of the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall after a stabbing incident in Sydney on April 13. [Photo/Agencies]

SYDNEY -- On Saturday, the Australian city of Sydney saw a violent stabbing spree unfold at one of its busiest shopping centers in Bondi Junction, which has so far left six innocent people dead and eight others fighting for life.

The knife-wielding attacker, who was believed to have acted alone, was fatally shot by an inspector, with police confirming that no continuing threat remained to the public.

As authorities are working against the clock to investigate the incident, the entire city is still reeling from the shock and the rampage has sparked strong reactions from Australian politicians.


Located less than four kilometers east of Sydney's central business district, the Westfield Bondi Junction Shopping Centre is usually packed with crowds during the weekend.

Around 3:10 pm local time on Saturday, a man entered the center but left shortly afterward. He came back at approximately 3:20 pm local time and then engaged people with a knife in his hand.

One witness told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he was near a clothing store when he saw the man start stabbing others "indiscriminately."

"(We just heard) screaming, and it didn't seem that long before we heard 'boom boom boom' of the gunshot and we thought, 'We hope it's the police,'" recalled the witness, who preferred to remain anonymous.

A female officer from the New South Wales (NSW) Police Force confronted the offender by herself before discharging a firearm and shooting the man to death.

During a press conference held on the heels of the stabbing, NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke said that five victims were declared dead at the scene, with multiple others rushed to hospitals in critical condition.

Later, the death toll climbed to six, as a female succumbed to her injury in a hospital.

"There were four women deceased in the shopping center and one male, and subsequently another female passed away in hospital, taking it to a total of six," NSW Police Force Commissioner Karen Webb briefed reporters on Saturday evening.

"There are about eight people in hospitals around being treated for different injuries associated with being at the shopping center, including a nine-month-old infant that has been in surgery," she added.


According to Webb, the attacker is a 40-year-old man whose identity remains to be formally confirmed, but early inquiries suggested that his motive was not related to terrorism.

"We've known a little bit about this person ... If it is the person we believe he is, we don't have fear for that person holding an ideation," Webb said. "In other words, it's not a terrorism incident."

A crime scene has been established at the expansive shopping center, with investigations expected to last for several days, and the NSW Police Force pledged to provide regular updates regarding the incident.

"It will take us significant time and investigation to work through this. It's a very complicated crime scene. Obviously, seven people have died (including the attacker). Six people have been tragically killed. It will take us a long time," Webb noted.


In the wake of the Bondi Junction stabbing, a plethora of Australian politicians conveyed their condolence and sympathies to the bereaved families.

"The devastating scenes of Bondi Junction are beyond words or understanding. Australians will be shocked this evening. This was a horrific act of violence, indiscriminately targeted at innocent people going about an ordinary Saturday doing their shopping," said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Reece Kershaw joined Albanese at the press conference, announcing that the AFP is assisting the NSW Police Force in investigating Saturday's mass-casualty event.

"The AFP has deployed members to the crime scene and we've offered our full specialist capabilities such as digital forensics. It's too early to determine a motive and it will be unhelpful to speculate," said Kershaw.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton flagged the stabbing spree as "the tragic and terrifying" events. "We grieve for the five people who have been killed. We pray for those who have been rushed to hospital with injuries," Dutton said before the sixth victim was confirmed deceased.

Acting Premier of NSW Penny Sharpe expressed shock over the multiple casualties right after the incident was reported.

Extending her thoughts to the victims and their families as well as first responders, Sharpe also noted that she was receiving regular updates from police and emergency services to follow the changing circumstances.

Meanwhile, the state's Premier Chris Minns is also rushing back to Sydney from his family holiday.

"I am horrified to hear about the events at Bondi Junction this afternoon. I am making immediate arrangements to return to Sydney," said Minns.

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