Australian counter terrorism force arrests seven teenagers after Sydney bishop stabbing


  • World
  • Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024

FILE PHOTO: Police investigate at the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church after a knife attack took place during a service the night before, in Wakeley in Sydney, Australia, April 16, 2024. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian counter terrorism team arrested seven teenagers on Wednesday linked to a boy charged with a religiously-motivated terror attack on a Sydney bishop and questioned another five people.

Police said a team of more than 400 police and security personnel were involved in the operation, which arrested associates of a 16-year-old boy charged with a terrorism offence for the knifing of Assyrian Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel during a live-streamed church service on April 15.

Police said they took the teens into custody because they posed an "unacceptable risk" to society. They will allege the teens believed in a religiously motivated violent extremist ideology. A further five people are being questioned by police.

"I can assure the community there is no ongoing threat to the community, and the action we have taken today has mitigated any risk of future or further harm," said New South Wales state Police Deputy Commissioner David Hudson at a news conference following the arrests.

Police said in a statement that the operation was ongoing.

Coming only days after a deadly mass stabbing in Bondi, the attack on Emmanuel and fears of further attacks or reprisals against the city's Muslim community have put the normally peaceful Sydney on edge. Gun and knife crime is rare in the city, one of the world's safest.

The Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JTT) operation, which involved 13 raids in Sydney and the regional town of Goulburn, was a combined effort between state and federal police as well as the domestic intelligence agency.

A significant amount of electronic material was seized in the raids, police said in a statement.

Australia's top domestic spy chief on Tuesday asked technology companies to give it access to user messages in limited circumstances so it could fight extremists.

(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Michael Perry)

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