SYDNEY: Australian officials said on Saturday that a shooting in Sydney in which a civilian police employee was killed the previous day was terrorist related, identifying the gunman as a 15-year-old boy.
The boy shot a finance department worker at close range as the man left police headquarters in Parramatta in western Sydney on Friday afternoon and was then killed in an exchange of fire with police.
“We believe his actions were politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism,” New South Wales police commissioner Andrew Scipione told reporters.
Police have set up a “strikeforce” to investigate the incident but Scipione said they were a “long way” from establishing what exactly prompted the attack.
He said the teenager was of Iraqi-Kurdish background and had been born in Iran but was unknown to police.
New South Wales state Premier Mike Baird said he believed that the lives of others had been saved by the quick actions of those police at the scene.
“There’s no doubt that this tragedy will echo around the world, as people try and understand how someone so young could admit such a hideous crime,” Baird said.
Australia has stepped up its efforts in countering the risk of extremist attacks, lifting its terror threat alert to high in September last year, conducting several raids and enacting numerous national security laws.
In December 2014, Iranian-born self-styled cleric Man Haron Monis and two hostages were killed following a 17-hour siege at a central Sydney cafe.
“We cannot let actions such as this divide us. We cannot let hate overtake us,” Baird said.
“We have to come together, and I’m sure that’s what we’ll see from this city and state.”