Police were called to the Westfield Bondi Junction mall in the city's east just before 4 p.m. (0600 GMT) on Saturday after the stabbing reports. Witnesses described him running through the mall with a knife randomly attacking people. Some shoppers and staff at the mall tried to stop him and crowds sheltered in shuttered shops.

Cooke confirmed on Sunday that six people were fatally stabbed, with two of them appearing to have no family in Australia. He added that police are working with agencies overseas to try to reach out to their families.

Cooke also said a number of people remained hospitalised for their injuries, with many in "a serious but stable condition", including a young child.