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Australians were left reeling on Monday after a second mass stabbing in three days in the country saw a priest and four worshippers injured in a church in a Sydney suburb, on the heels of a rampage that left six dead at a shopping mall, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Christ Good Shepherd Church’s live online broadcast of its service showed a man assaulting Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel. Four men were also injured in the attack on the church in Wakeley, which triggered a near-riot outside the building. The assailant’s motives remained unknown, and no link was established between this attack and the Sydney mall stabbing, the BBC noted.

On Monday night, community members gathered in Wakeley to stop the attacker from being escorted out of the church and receiving medical treatment. “The crowd was attacking us, throwing things and being aggressive as we tried to help their bishop,” one police officer told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The church stabbing came as Australians mourned six people killed on Saturday in a shopping center 25 miles away from Wakeley.

Joel Cauchi, 40, stabbed them in the Bondi Junction mall near the famous Bondi Beach before he was shot dead by police officer Amy Scott.

Five of those dead and most of the 12 injured – which included a baby – were female. Cauchi purposefully targeted women and avoided men, New South Wales police said, adding that they were probing his motives, the Associated Press reported.

Cauchi’s parents explained that “he wanted a girlfriend and he’s got no social skills and he was frustrated out of his brain.” They told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that their son had been receiving treatment for his mental illness for 18 years.

Mass murders are rare in Australia, wrote the Conversation, citing a 2017 study that said the country experienced only 14 mass killing incidents between 1964 and 2014. In 2017, a man drove his car into a busy shopping street in Melbourne’s central business district, killing six people, and in 2019, a gunman killed four people in a shooting spree in Darwin, in the Northern Territory.

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