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Hero Frenchman who confronted Sydney attacker offered Australian citizenship

By RFI
Australia © AFP - DAVID GRAY
TUE, 16 APR 2024 LISTEN
© AFP - DAVID GRAY

Australia's prime minister on Tuesday said a visiting Frenchman who heroically fended off a knife-wielding Sydney mall attacker using a bollard would be welcomed as an Australian citizen.

Damien Guerot has been dubbed "bollard man" and a "hero" of Saturday's attack that killed six people and wounded a dozen more.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese singled Guerot out for praise, thanking him for his "extraordinary bravery" in confronting Joel Cauchi on an escalator and preventing the 40-year-old from reaching more victims.

"I say this to Damien Guerot, who is dealing with his visa applications, that you are welcome here. You are welcome to stay for as long as you like," Albanese said.

"This is someone who we would welcome becoming an Australian citizen, although that would of course be a loss for France. We thank him for his extraordinary bravery."

"It says a lot about the nature of humanity at a time when we are facing difficult issues, that someone who is not a citizen of this country stood bravely at the top of those escalators and stopped this perpetrator from getting onto another floor and potentially inflicting further carnage on citizens," Albanese said.

French President Emmanuel Macron also took to social media to congratulate two French nationals who intervened. Guerot was at the mall with compatriot Silas Despreaux, who repotredly also confronted Cauchi with a bollard. 

"Two of our compatriots behaved like true heroes. A source of great pride and gratitude," Macron wrote on X, addressing his "condolences" to the "Australians struck by the attack".

Australians have been shocked by the Saturday attack that took place in a busy shopping mall in the city's eastern suburbs.

Five women and one Pakistani security guard were killed during the rampage, which has not been blamed on terrorism.

Police are investigating whether Cauchi, who had a history of mental illness, targeted women specifically.

But Australians and Albanese took some succour from strangers aiding each other during the attack and from the bravery of policewoman Amy Scott, who tracked Cauchi down and shot him dead.

"I think that on Saturday we saw some of the best of human character at the same time as we saw such devastating tragedy," Albanese said.

Second knife attack

Meanwhile, locals in a different suburb, west of Sydney, are reeling after a separate knife attack.

Two people were stabbed when a 16-year-old suspect rushed the dais at an Assyrian church in Wakeley late Monday, injuring a bishop who was giving a sermon.

The teen was immediately subdued by outraged congregants and taken into police custody.

Australian police on Tuesday said it was a religiously motivated "terrorist" act, as they urged calm from the angered local community.

The alleged perpetrator was "known to police" but was not on any terror watchlists, senior officers said.

(with AFP)

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