Sydney church stabbing – what we know so far

A 16-year-old-boy was arrested on Monday night after allegedly stabbing a bishop and several others at an Assyrian church service in Wakeley in Sydney’s west. The incident triggered a riot among worshippers and violence towards police and paramedics.

As leaders call on various religious communities in Sydney’s west to remain calm, here is what we know so far about what has been declared by authorities as a terrorist incident.

  • A live stream of the service at Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church in Wakeley showed a person approaching the altar who then appeared to stab toward the head of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel just after 7pm.

Related: Sydney church stabbing: police treating as terrorist attack the alleged stabbing of bishop during livestreamed mass

  • A priest was also allegedly stabbed in the attack.

  • In a video reportedly filmed in the wake of the alleged attack, the teenager can be heard saying in Arabic: “If he [the bishop] didn’t get himself involved in my religion, if he hadn’t spoken about my Prophet, I wouldn’t have come here … if he just spoke about his own religion, I wouldn’t have come.”

  • Emmanuel, who has a popular online presence, has previously criticised Islam and the prophet Muhammad in public sermons.

  • The congregation then swarmed forward, with a scuffle ensuing between the worshippers and the attacker. Others travelled to the church, with 2,000 reportedly gathering on the suburban street.

  • Police were called and arrested the 16-year-old, who had one of his fingers severed in the alleged incident. Authorities believe he severed his own finger.

  • The attacker, bishop and priest all underwent surgery.

  • The NSW premier, Chris Minns, said on Monday the 16-year-old had been found in possession of a flick knife at a train station in November last year, and a magistrate had placed him on a good behaviour bond over the incident earlier this year. Minns also said the boy had been found with a knife at school in 2020.

  • The alleged offender had not previously been on any terror watch list.

  • Police and paramedics came under attack during the riot. Six paramedics became stuck in the church for three and a half hours, while 30 people were injured – about 20 of whom were affected by capsicum spray.

  • The alleged attack was declared a terror incident in the early hours of Tuesday morning, which gives counter-terrorism police extraordinary powers under NSW laws to investigate, as well as conduct searches to prevent any further suspected attacks.

  • Minns gathered leaders of the local Muslim, Assyrian and Melkite communities for an emergency meeting at 10.30pm on Monday, organising for them to put their names to a statement condemning the violence and calling for calm.

  • Leaders of Lakemba mosque in Sydney’s west revealed they had received threats to firebomb the mosque on Monday night.

  • The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has pleaded for unity after the alleged attack.

  • The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) chief, Mike Burgess, said there was evidence the alleged attack was religiously motivated.

  • Authorities have so far declined to state the religion of the alleged offender.

  • The NSW police commissioner, Karen Webb, said the police would allege a degree of premeditation, as the church was not near the alleged offender’s home, and he allegedly travelled there with a knife.

  • The alleged offender had not previously been on any terror watch list.

  • The NSW government will now consider strengthening knife laws, following the incident as well as the attack in Bondi Junction on Saturday in which six people were stabbed to death.