Four people have died and more have been injured in a knife attack in a shopping centre near Australia’s Bondi beach.

Anthony Cooke, assistant commissioner of New South Wales Police Force, said in a press conference: “A man walked into Westfield at Bondi Junction, he left the centre very shortly after and returned at about 20 past three; as he moved through the centre he engaged with about nine people.

“It is clear that during that engagement he caused harm to those people, we believe by stabbing them with a weapon he was carrying.

“Very clearly a range of reports were made on the incident, police attended promptly – a single unit officer, inspector of police, was nearby, attended, (and) went into the centre directed by a range of people.

“She confronted the offender who had moved, by this stage, to level five.

“As she continued to walk quickly behind to catch up with him he turned to face her, raised a knife, she discharged a firearm and that person is now deceased.”

Roi Huberman told ABC News Australia: “I was in the changing rooms of a jeans shop, we heard two shots, at first we couldn’t work out what was going on. Then the person at the store said it sounds like shots, so she took us to the back where they can lock it from the inside.

“Then we heard fire alarm; there were some people stuck in the changing rooms so we opened the door and got them as well, then she (the store worker) led us through the back door.

“We came back into Oxford Street, then we saw about 10 ambulances, about eight police cars, riot police, helicopters hovering from above.

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“I saw people, after a few minutes, people running away – some young women were crying and they were saying that they spoke to a little girl who saw a dead body, then I saw people running across Oxford Street and the police came and cordoned it off.

“At one stage I spoke to a guy that had a photo of a police woman over the body of someone and apparently the guy was wielding either a machete or knife; think he’s wounded some people and then the police woman shot him twice – and these are probably the shots that we heard.”

An unnamed shopper said: "I was hiding in the backroom. I was hearing gunshots. It’s just the worst thing ever, who does that to people?

“I saw a woman lying on the floor in Chanel.

“I didn’t see him properly, I was running. It’s just insanity – I wasn’t expecting it.

“I thought I was going to die. Every moment was playing through my head, I was so scared.”

New South Wales Police said in a statement: “A critical incident has commenced following the shooting of a male at Bondi Junction.

“Just before 4pm, emergency services were called to Westfield Bondi Junction following reports of multiple people stabbed.”

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter: “I have been briefed by the AFP (Australian Federal Police) on the devastating events at Bondi Junction.

“Tragically, multiple casualties have been reported and the first thoughts of all Australians are with those affected and their loved ones.

“Our hearts go out to those injured and we offer our thanks to those caring for them as well as our brave police and first responders.”

A shopper at the centre near Australia’s Bondi beach said the attacker was “on a killing spree”.

The shopper, who was not named, told ABC News: “He just started floating towards us and all I heard was ‘put it down’ and then she shot him.

“But we were in no doubt, if she didn’t shoot him, he would have kept going. He was on the rampage.

“Then she walked over and gave him CPR. He had a big blade on him – she chucked the knife away.

“He looked like he was on a killing spree.”