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‘It was carnage’ – Eyewitnesses describe Sydney stabbing horror

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By Tiffanie Turnbull & Katy Watson, in Bondi, & Doug Faulkner in London,BBC News

Watch: Witnesses describe the Sydney mall attack

Eyewitnesses have described scenes of chaos as they fled a busy Sydney shopping mall where a knifeman killed six people and wounded several others.

“It was carnage,” said a witness, who was in a cafe nearby with his two young children as the attack began.

The man, who did not want to be named, told ABC News he saw a man suddenly “stabbing people indiscriminately”.

Crowds poured from Westfield shopping centre in Bondi when the terrifying incident began just after 3pm.

“It was insanity,” a visibly upset woman said, as she described seeing a wounded woman lying on the floor.

Warning: This story contains descriptions and images which some people may find upsetting.

Police say the knifeman had visited the mall at 15:10 local time before leaving only to return minutes later to begin his rampage.

The attack was only ended when a female police officer – who had been on duty nearby – confronted the man. He raised his knife towards her and she shot him, police said.

Jason Dockson said he heard “people yelling and screaming, running” and began following behind the officer.

He said the man, armed with a “big blade” started “floating towards us and all I heard was ‘put it down’ and then she shot him”.

“If she didn’t shoot him, well, he would have kept going, he was on the rampage.”

Video shows Sydney stabbing attack suspect in mall

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the officer as a “hero”, saying: “There is no doubt that she saved lives through her action.”

“For all of us tonight, the devastating scenes of Bondi Junction are beyond words or understanding,” he said.

Getty Images People speak on the phone at the scene outside the Westfield mall in BondiGetty Images
Getty Images A police officer at the scene in BondiGetty Images
Getty Images Emergency services are seen at Bondi Junction after multiple people were stabbed inside the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centreGetty Images

‘Everyone was in shock’

The Westfield mall where the attack took place is a major shopping centre in the east of Sydney’s central business district and close to the famous Bondi Beach.

It is one of the biggest and most popular shopping centres in the country and like any other Saturday was packed with hundreds of people, including many families and young children on the first day of the school holidays.

Horrified shoppers have described their shock as the attacks unfolded.

Johnny, 33, who was visiting from the New South Wales Central Coast, said he heard a commotion while shopping and turned to see a woman and her baby being attacked.

“She was getting stabbed. Everyone was in shock [and] didn’t know what to do,” he said.

Nearby he thought he could make out another body on the ground, he said.

The injured woman managed to make a run for the Tommy Hilfiger store and once inside, staff quickly locked the doors, he said.

“Some of the other shoppers were using clothing and things to try and… stop the bleeding,” he said.

“The baby only had a minor wound, but the lady was pretty bad… there was a lot of blood and she was panicking,” he added.

“Hopefully she pulls through.”

Rashdan Aqashah, who was working in clothing store COS, said he saw a man holding a pole confront the attacker on an escalator.

“I saw this one guy fighting with the killer. He was holding the pole, trying to throw a pole at the escalator,” the 19-year-old said.

Mr Aqashah said “everyone started running” when the attack began unfolding.

“I grabbed my manager to shut the store door. It was just in front of our store,” he said.

. Map of Bondi area.

Olinder Nemer told the BBC she scene was “so scary”.

“I didn’t see him stabbing people, but I saw him running with the knife,” the 22-year-old said.

“People were just running, screaming. At first we didn’t know what was happening, so we were running with everyone.”

Huma Hussainy and Mohamad Naveed spent 45 terrifying minutes hiding in a changing room.

Ms Hussainy said she was “still in shock” and described how she came within metres of the attacker outside a Lululemon store, adding that he had a knife the length of a forearm.

She added she saw two young women lying on the ground covered in blood, a person was trying to rouse one of them but “she was not moving”.

Vernon Michael told Reuters he was in a store when he heard someone saying “run, run, run, someone’s been stabbed”.

“We’re just grateful cause like literally two minutes before that, we were sitting right where it happened, where the first lady got stabbed,” he said.

Police said five women and a man had died as a result of the attack, while a nine-month-old baby required surgery.

About eight people, including the child, are being treated for different injuries as a result of the attack, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb said.

She added officers believed they had identified the attacker as a 40-year-old man but were waiting to officially confirm his identity.

If the man is who they believe him to be, then police did not consider the motive to be terrorism, she said.

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