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Sydney shopping mall reopens after stabbings. Police make first arrest in riot after church attack


SYDNEY (AP) — A Sydney shopping mall opened to the public on Thursday for the first time since a mass stabbing i n which six people died, while the Australian prime minister raised giving citizenship to an immigrant security guard who was wounded while confronting the knife-wielding attacker.

The deadly rampage through Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday was the earlier of two knife attacks by lone assailants over three days that have traumatized Sydney.

The man who stabbed 18 people in Saturday's attack was shot dead by police. A 16-year-old boy is in police custody after he allegedly stabbed a Christian bishop and priest during a church service on Monday. Police allege the boy had a religious or ideological motivation and attacked during the streamed service to cause intimidation.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has praised those who intervened in Saturday’s attack to prevent more deaths, including security guard Muhammad Taha, who was stabbed in the stomach. Taha is from Pakistan and working in Australia on a temporary visa that is due to expire within weeks.

Albanese said his government would consider giving Taha citizenship, the same reward he had earlier offered French citizen Damien Guerot for his own heroic intervention.

“Yes, we certainly will” consider making Taha an Australian citizen, Albanese told Radio FiveAA.

“Muhammad Taha, he confronted this guy, the perpetrator, Joel Cauchi, on Saturday. And it just shows extraordinary courage,” Albanese said. “That’s the sort of courage that we want to say thank you to, frankly.”

Guerot was nicknamed “Bollard Man” on social media after security camera footage showed the construction worker standing at the top of an escalator on Saturday and menacing Cauchi with a plastic bollard — or barrier post — as he approached. Cauchi fled down the escalator and people on Guerot’s floor were safe.

Guerot’s temporary Australian work visa was due to expire in July until Albanese intervened.

While Guerot had been offered citizenship, he wanted a permanent resident visa, which he would receive on Thursday, Albanese said.

While the Westfield Bondi Junction mall reopened Thursday, shops will remain closed for what is described as a “community reflection day.” The businesses in one of Australia’s largest shopping malls will reopen Friday with higher security.

Police are conducting major investigations into the shopping mall attack, the stabbings at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church and the riot that occurred outside the Orthodox Assyrian service as people sought vengeance over the attack.

The mall attack is not a criminal investigation, but police are gathering evidence to present to a coroner to investigate the circumstances of the deaths. Five of those slain were women and one was a male security guard.

The investigation into the riot made its first arrest late Wednesday when police took a 19-year-old man from his Sydney home.

He remained in police custody overnight and will appear in a court on Thursday charged with riot, affray and damaging property during public disorder, a police statement said.

Dozens more suspected rioters are expected to be charged.


McGuirk reported from Melbourne, Australia.