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Knife attack in Australia church sparks tensions

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SYDNEY, April 16: A teenager has been accused of wounding a Christian bishop and a priest during a church service in the second high-profile knife attack to rock Sydney in recent days, leaving communities on edge, leaders calling for calm and a besieged church urging against retaliation.
The 16-year-old was overpowered by the shocked congregation at Christ the Good Shepherd Church after he allegedly stabbed Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and the Rev. Isaac Royel during a service on Monday night that was being streamed online.
Police have not commented on reports that the boy’s fingers were severed by parishioners in the Orthodox Assyrian church in suburban Wakeley, but confirmed his hand injuries were “severe.”
Video of the attack spread quickly on social media and an angry mob converged on the church demanding vengeance. They hurled bricks, bottles and fence boards at police, who temporarily barricaded the boy inside the church for his own safety. Many in the crowd chanted “an eye for an eye” and “bring him out.” Several people including police officers required hospital treatment following the hourslong riot.
The church said in a statement on Tuesday it “denounced retaliation of any kind.” Police stood guard around mosques in parts of Sydney on Tuesday after reports that text messages were circulating urging the Assyrian Christian community to retaliate against Muslims.
Sydney’s Lakemba Mosque, Australia’s largest, has hired additional private security for the next week after receiving fire bomb threats on Monday night.
Police and community leaders said public anxiety had been heightened by a lone assailant’s knife attack in a Sydney shopping mall on Saturday that killed five women and a male security guard who attempted to intervene. (PTI)

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