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Australian police charge five teenagers in Sydney cleric's stabbing

by Reuters Journalist

Australian police said on Thursday they charged five teenagers with terrorism-related offences in investigations following the stabbing of an Assyrian Christian bishop while he was giving a livestreamed sermon earlier this month.

The five boys, who were due in children's court on Thursday, were arrested on Wednesday in the Sydney region. Police said they were associates of a 16-year-old boy previously charged in the knifing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, who was injured in the attack on April 15 at his church. 

The latest charges included possessing violent extremist material, conspiring to prepare for a terrorist act and carrying a knife in public, New South Wales police said.

The bearded Emmanuel, bishop at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the Sydney suburb of Wakeley, is a social media star with followers around the world and a fiery critic of homosexuality, COVID vaccinations, Islam and U.S. President Joe Biden's election.

The Assyrian Church, which has its world headquarters in Iraq, is a Christian sect with its historical origins in parts of modern Turkey, Syria and Iran.       

The attack on Emmanuel came only days after a deadly mass stabbing in Bondi. Gun and knife crime is rare in Sydney, one of the world's safest big cities.

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