Friday, June 14, 2024
World News

Australian police investigate stabbing at Westfield Bondi Junction mall in Sydney

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIAAustralian police say an attacker has killed six people and injured several others in a stabbing attack at a mall in Sydney.

The attacker stabbed at least nine people in Westfield Bondi Junction shopping center before a senior police officer who was in the vicinity at the time shot him dead, New South Wales assistant commissioner Anthony Cooke said in a news conference Saturday evening.

Five people were killed in the stabbing attack, a small child was among the wounded, and several of the victims are in serious and critical conditions, he added.

Police later confirmed that another person had died, bringing the number of victims killed in the attack to six.

Cooke said the attacker briefly walked into the mall on Saturday afternoon before leaving. He returned soon after with a knife.

Police are working to identify the attacker, who is believed to have acted alone, Cooke said. Police are carrying out a critical incident investigation and say the motive is not clear, although they have not ruled out terrorism, he said.

“The devastating scenes at Bondi Junction are beyond words or understanding,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a news conference.

“This was a horrific act of violence indiscriminately targeted at innocent people going about an ordinary Saturday, doing their shopping,” he continued. He praised the bravery of the officer who responded to the “very dangerous” incident by herself, saying: “She is certainly a hero.”

The upscale Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall is situated in the affluent Eastern Beaches area of Sydney, less than two miles from Bondi Beach.

It is normally a bustling but peaceful hub of shoppers drawn to high-end stores including Gucci, Chanel and Christian Dior. There is little visible security and anyone can enter the mall off the street from multiple points. Most days, its corridors are full of shoppers from around the world, elderly mall-walkers staying fit and young mothers making use of the cafes and play equipment.

The incident has shocked Australia, a nation where mass killings are extremely uncommon. There were 79 homicides in 2022 in New South Wales, a state of more than 8 million people. The most common homicide weapon was a knife, partly due to Australia’s tight gun restrictions.

New South Wales state premier Chris Minns said he was “horrified” by the news and thanked police, emergency services and the community “for their bravery in the face of this shocking incident.”

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were lost, and wish the injured a speedy and complete recovery,” Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Australia, said in a message shared by the embassy.

Bisset reported from London.

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