Six people were fatally stabbed by an attacker at a shopping center in an eastern Sydney suburb on Saturday before the suspect was shot dead by police at the scene, according to Australian authorities.

Five women and one man were killed in the knife attack at the Westfield Shopping Center in Bondi Junction on Saturday afternoon, as hundreds of shoppers fled the scene.

The offender was confronted and fatally shot by a senior police officer after he allegedly lunged at her with the weapon, police told reporters in Sydney.

People are led out from Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney on April 13, 2024. (AP/Kyodo)

Eight people injured in the attack were taken to the hospital, and several remain in critical condition, including a nine-month-old infant who has undergone surgery, police and ambulance officers said.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb told a press conference that the man is believed to be a 40-year-old known to police, though they are awaiting formal identification.

"If he is the person that we believe, then we don't have fears of that person holding an ideation. In other words, it's not a terrorism incident," Webb said, adding that police were confident he acted alone.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the crime is shocking for those in Australia, where gun and knife laws are strict, and such attacks are rare.

"This was a horrific act of violence, indiscriminately targeted at innocent people going about an ordinary Saturday, doing their shopping," he told a press conference in Canberra.

"Tonight, the first thoughts of all Australians are with the victims of these terrible acts and their loved ones."