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Nude Swordsman Attacks Churchgoers

November 28, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ A naked man armed with a sword burst into a south London church during Mass Sunday and attacked members of the congregation. Nine people were injured, some seriously, police reported.

Six of the injured suffered stab wounds, while three others were hurt in the commotion when worshippers fled in panic from St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church, in Thornton Heath, a London suburb.

Members of the congregation overpowered the man before police arrested him.

``I understand the priest was half way through Mass when the naked man came running in at the back of the church,″ said the Rev. Father William Agley, one of the priests in the parish. ``He was shouting and brandishing a weapon which people described as a sword.″

The injured _ all adults _ were brought to a nearby hospital.

Officials at Mayday Hospital said one of the injured underwent surgery, while two other stab victims were expected to undergo surgery. The three other stab victims received less serious injuries.

The injuries of the other three victims included a broken leg and a sprained ankle.

The children from the congregation were at a separate service in the parish hall when the man burst in.

``The children were preparing to come back and were in the hall when it happened, so luckily none was injured,″ said Father Agley.

He said the attacker was unknown to the priests in the parish, and members of the congregation said they had never seen him before.

``We really have no idea where he came from,″ Father Agley told reporters.

Fred Rebello, who was outside the church, said he heard screams and saw people rushing from the church.

``I realized that something awful had happened,″ said Rebello. ``People were stampeding out of the main exit ... They were all a bit hysterical.″

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