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Sydney attacker may have targeted women

Australian police have said the attacker who fatally stabbed six people at a busy shopping centre in Sydney’s beach suburb of Bondi may have targeted women, as the country mourned the victims and hundreds of people laid flowers near the scene.

In the attack on Saturday at the Westfield Bondi Junction mall, five of the six people killed and the majority of the 12 injured were women.

“It’s obvious to me, it’s obvious to detectives that seems to be an area of interest that the offender had focused on women and avoided the men,” New South Wales state Police Commissioner Karen Webb told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“The videos speak for themselves, don’t they? That’s certainly a line for inquiry for us.”

Police have said Joel Cauchi had mental health issues in the past and there was no indication ideology was a motive

Witnesses described how attacker Joel Cauchi, 40, wearing shorts and an Australian national rugby league jersey, ran through the mall with a knife. He was killed by Inspector Amy Scott, who confronted him solo while he was on the rampage.

Police have said Cauchi had mental health issues in the past and there was no indication ideology was a motive.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said “the gender breakdown…was concerning” when asked on ABC Radio if it was a gender-motivated attack.

The only man who was killed during the attack 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 New South Wales government said it would give over €11 million for an independent coronial inquest into the attack but Premier Chris Minns ruled out any change in rules that would allow private security guards to carry firearms.

Thousands of flowers and wreaths lay in a makeshift memorial outside the beachside mall in Bondi as hundreds of Sydney residents came down to pay tributes.

The Australian national flag is flying at half-mast across the country in honour of the victims

“It’s shocking something like this could happen so close to home,” said Wren Wyatt, who paid respects at the memorial.

“I’m still trying to get back to everyday life. I’ve taken today off to try and get my head better,” she added.

Ms Wyatt said she was walking past the mall on Saturday when a crowd rushed past her screaming and security told her to flee.

Police said they had finished taking physical evidence at the mall and began allowing people inside to collect cars and other belongings.

Violent crimes such as Saturday’s stabbing are rare in the country of about 27 million people, which has some of the world’s toughest gun and knife laws.

The Australian national flag is flying at half-mast across the country, including at the Parliament House and Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, in honour of the victims. Sydney Opera House’s sails will be lit with a black ribbon this evening.

Chinese state TV reported on Sunday that one Chinese citizen was among those who had died in the attack, without revealing the identity of the victim, adding that another Chinese citizen had been injured.


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