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Officials: Sydney Shooting An Act of Terrorism

New South Wales police commissioner Andrew Scipione (File Photo)
New South Wales police commissioner Andrew Scipione (File Photo)

Australian officials said Saturday the shooting death of a police official by a teenager in Sydney was likely politically motivated and appears to be an act of terrorism.

The unidentified 15-year-old shot a New South Wales police finance worker in the back of the head at close range Friday outside a police station in a western Sydney suburb.

The boy, who was killed in a subsequent shoot-out with police, has not been identified. Media reports suggest he is of an Iraqi-Kurdish background and was born in Iran.

Some reports said he shouted religious slogans before killing the official, who has been identified as Curtis Cheng, a 17-year veteran of the New South Wales police force.

Motive unclear

New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says it is not clear why Cheng was targeted. He said police have not established a motive, but have determined it was likely "politically motivated.

"If it's politically motivated violence, then under our definition, it is deemed necessarily an act of terrorism," he said. He did not explain what information had led to this determination, but said the boy appears to have been working alone.

Prime Minister Turnbull also said Saturday the shooting appeared to have an unspecified political motivation, calling it a "shocking crime" and a "cold-blooded-murder."

"It was doubly shocking because it was perpetrated by a 15-year-old boy and it underlines the importance of families, communities, leaders being very aware of whether young people are being radicalized," Turnbull said.

High alert

Australia is under high alert due to concerns about home-grown militants, some of whom have traveled to the Middle East to fight with Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Police have launched several counter-terrorism raids across the nation in recent months. Several of the arrests have involved young people who were said to be plotting terrorist attacks.

Turnbull stressed Australians must not "vilify or blame the entire Muslim community for the actions of what is, in truth, a very, very small percentage of violent extremist individuals."

"The Muslim community are our absolutely necessary partners in combating this type of violent extremism," he said.

Some information in this report was provided by AP