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Indian-origin couple hid in backroom barricaded with dozens during Sydney mall knife attack

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An Indian-origin couple hid in a backroom and barricaded themselves with cardboard boxes along with dozens of others when a man went on a stabbing spree, killing six people before being shot dead by police at a busy shopping centre in Sydney on Saturday, according to a media report. Shoi Ghoshal from Sydney told the BBC that she and her husband Debashis Chakrabarty were at the Westfield shopping centre at Bondi Junction earlier today when the attack started to unfold.

The 36-year-old described how they were inside a store when it became clear something was wrong.

Ghosal said they heard some people rushing inside the store and thought a fire had broken out but “people were saying someone is stabbing rampantly”.

“We went into a backroom, a storeroom, and used boxes to barricade ourselves in,” she said, estimating that there were between 20 to 25 people huddling inside.

Ghosal said an elderly woman was crying for her husband who was still on the outside. She explained how when the group made calls to the police, they relayed to them what was happening and told them to “stay there, stay calm”.

The group was later evacuated through the emergency exit of the mall, where they were met with the sight of a swarm of police cars. “It was just beyond horrible. It plays on your mind that you could have been one of the victims. We are grateful we are safe and our thoughts are with those who have suffered. It is terrible for their families,” she told the BBC. Four women and one man died at the scene, while a fifth woman died from her injuries at a hospital, police said.

Eight people are being treated for their injuries at hospitals around Sydney, including a nine-month-old baby who was last reported to be in surgery, reported the BBC.

Authorities say the suspect is a 40-year-old man, but are waiting for formal identification and say it’s “too early to speculate” about his motivations.

Police say the suspect entered the shopping centre at Bondi Junction at around 15:10 local time and then left “very shortly after” before returning ten minutes later and moving through the mall, the report said.

A senior female officer nearby to the scene was the first to respond and saw the suspect lunged at her before she shot him dead, police said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised that officer as a “hero”. She conducted CPR until the arrival of paramedics but the suspect could not be revived. Police believe the suspect acted alone and that there is no ongoing risk to the public.