Police enter the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall after a stabbing incident in Sydney on April 13, 2024.
Police enter the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall after a stabbing incident in Sydney on April 13, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Sydney: Six victims died in a stabbing incident at a Sydney mall on Saturday afternoon, while the attacker was shot dead by a police officer.

Authorities reiterated there was no indication the attack was an act of terrorism. There's "no evidence we have recovered, no intelligence we have gathered, that would suggest that this was driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise," Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke said in a briefing Sunday morning.

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Twelve people, including a nine-month-old child, remain in hospitals across Sydney with traumatic injuries.

The offender, who acted alone, was identified as a 40-year-old man, Joel Cauchi, from Australia's Queensland state. He was known to police, although his motive remains unknown, they said. Authorities are continuing investigations into the circumstances, saying he may had suffered from mental health issues.

Footage on social media showed hundreds fleeing the Bondi Junction mall in the Australian city's eastern suburbs.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese extended condolences to those affected via a post on X.

Security camera footage broadcast by local media showed a man wearing an Australian rugby league jersey running around the shopping centre with a large knife and injured people lying lifeless on the floor.

Eyewitnesses described a scene of panic, with shoppers scrambling to safety and police trying to secure the area.

Several people took shelter in shops as they tried to protect themselves and their families.

'Running and screaming' 

Pranjul Bokaria had just finished up work and was doing some shopping when the stabbing occurred.

She ended up running to a nearby shop and taking shelter in a break room.

"It was scary, there are some people who were emotionally vulnerable and crying," she told AFP.

She escaped using an emergency exit with other shoppers and staff, which took them to a back street.

She described a scene of "chaos", with people running, and police swarming the area.

"I am alive and grateful," she said.

Reece Colmenares was on her way to the gym when she saw "people running and screaming" past her.

She told AFP the people were saying someone had been stabbed so she ran into a nearby hardware shop with 10 to 12 other people

"They took us down [to a room] and closed the shop," she said.

"It's scary, there are little children and elderly and people in wheelchairs everywhere."

As night fell, dozens of police and ambulances were still outside the shopping complex, with stretchers ready to take people to nearby hospitals.

The sound of police sirens and helicopters filled the air.

The mall has been locked down and police have urged people to avoid the area.

Tributes flow for victims killed

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese echoed Australians' sadness and shock at the attack.

"Tragically, multiple casualties have been reported and the first thoughts of all Australians are with those affected and their loved ones," he wrote on social media platform X.

Albanese said on Sunday he had received condolences messages from counterparts.

"I've received messages overnight from the leaders, including from President Biden, Prime Minister Sunak, Prime Minister Luxon and others in our region as well, expressing their condolences," Albanese said in Canberra, according to a transcript.

UAE strongly condemns stabbing attack in Australia
The UAE has strongly condemned the stabbing attack in Sydney, Australia, which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries to innocent people.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) affirmed that the UAE expresses its strong condemnation of these criminal acts and its permanent rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism aimed at undermining security and stability in contravention of international law.

The Ministry expressed its sincere condolences and sympathy to the government and people of Australia, and to the families of the victims of this heinous crime, as well as its wishes for a speedy recovery for all the injured.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said on X late on Saturday that his "thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the police and emergency service responders".

Tributes also came in from the British royal family including King Charles, the official head of state in Australia.

"Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who have been so brutally killed during such a senseless attack," a statement from the king said on the royal family's X account.

Prince William and Princess Kate said on X that their "thoughts are with all those affected, including the loved ones of those lost and the heroic emergency responders who risked their own lives to save others".

From the Vatican, a top cardinal said Pope Francis was "deeply saddened to learn of the violent attack in Sydney".

"He sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all affected by this senseless tragedy, especially those who are now mourning the loss of a loved one" the Vatican telegram said.