Police said there was “a degree of premeditation” as the attacker travelled to the church, far from his home, with a knife. But Webb said police at this early stage of the investigation believe the attacker was acting alone.

The head of Australia’s leading spy agency also said that the suspect appeared to have acted alone and there was no immediate need to raise the country’s terror threat level.

“At this stage, it looks like the actions of an individual,” Australian Security Intelligence Organisation head Mike Burgess said in rare public comments.

“At this point, there is no indication of anyone else involved, but that remains an open investigation.”

Emergency crews said they attended around 30 people after the clash outside the church, and seven were taken to hospitals with injuries. Several police were hospitalised with injuries and 20 police vehicles were damaged, Webb said.

The teen is now being held at an undisclosed location and is believed to have also sustained knife injuries. Authorities had originally given the suspect’s age as 15.

An AFP journalist at the scene late on Monday saw projectiles being hurled before police with riot shields and body armour eventually pushed the protesters away from the church.

Twenty police vehicles and some houses were damaged as the protesters threw bottles, bricks and other items.

One officer was “hit with a metal object and sustained a twisted knee and a chipped tooth”, police said.

“Another constable sustained a broken jaw after he was hit with a brick and a fence paling”.

Calm was eventually restored, but more officers were deployed to the neighbourhood to protect local religious buildings.

New South Wales state Premier Chris Minns urged people to not take the law into their hands.

“You will be met by the full force of the law if there’s any attempt for tit-for-tat violence in Sydney over the coming days,” Minns told reporters.

Minns also issued a joint statement with Christian and Muslim leaders calling for calm.

“We’re calling on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other,” the statement said. “Now is the time to show that we are strong and united.”

It was the second major stabbing attack in just three days in Australia’s most populous city after six people were killed in a knife attack at a beachside mall in the Bondi area on Saturday.


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