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Crowds join Bondi memorial for mall stabbing victims

Crowds gathered at Sydney’s Bondi Beach for a candlelight memorial to the six people killed during a stabbing attack at a nearby shopping mall.

Many hundreds sat on the grass in a beachside park to grieve for the five women and security guard who died in the 13 April attack at the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping complex.

“When I heard this I cried. Because it is new to us. We don’t have this happen often. It’s a shock,” said local cafe owner Daniela Pontidas.

“I know a lot of people that were impacted in some way,” she told AFP.

“I feel like this has burst Australia’s bubble a bit.”

. The six victims of the attack were remembered at the vigil

Paul Inggall said he had been at Bondi Junction in the morning hours before the attack.

“These things don’t happen often in Australia but when they do I think they have a profound impact,” he told AFP.

“I think it really moves the community, so I want to be a part of it.”

The attacker, 40-year-old Joel Cauchi, was shot and killed by police inspector Amy Scott, who attended the service.

As waves crashed into the beach at dusk, a choir sang the hymn “Keep Your Loving Arms Around Me”.

Police officers comfort each other during the vigil

An Indigenous didgeridoo was played as people lit candles in the breezy evening.

“Bondi is tough and this is a strong community, and we will get through this,” said New South Wales Premier Chris Minns.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese offered the condolences of the nation for the six lives “snatched away on that hardest of Saturday afternoons”.

“We mourn for all the joy they should have known,” he said.

Anthony Albanese offered his condolences to the families of the six victims

Cauchi’s parents say he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 17 but stopped taking medication, later leaving their Queensland home and dropping out of treatment.

His women victims were a designer, a volunteer surf lifesaver, the daughter of an entrepreneur, a Chinese university student, and a new mother.

Ashlee Good, 38, handed over her bleeding nine-month-old girl Harriet to two strangers in desperation before being rushed to hospital where she died.

The baby was also taken to hospital and is said to be doing well.

Hundreds of people attended the vigil at Bondi Beach

The only man who was killed was a 30-year-old security guard at the mall, Faraz Tahir, who arrived in Australia last year as a refugee from Pakistan, according to a statement from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Australia, to which he belonged.

The shopping mall reopened for business on Friday in a sombre mood, with floral tributes to the dead piled up inside and shoppers stopping to sign a book of condolence.

Australian leaders have praised the “heroes” of the Bondi attack, including the police and emergency responders.

The government has granted permanent citizenship to Frenchman Damien Guerot who fended off the attacker with a bollard; and it is expected to do the same for wounded Pakistani security guard Muhammad Taha.

Despite the rarity of such crimes, two days after the mall attack an Assyrian Christian bishop was brutally stabbed during a livestreamed service in western Sydney.

The bishop has said he is recovering in hospital. A 16-year-old suspect has been charged with committing “a terrorist act”.


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