Police in New Zealand have shot and killed a “violent extremist” after he stabbed and wounded at least six people in an Auckland supermarket.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the incident was a “terrorist attack” carried out by a Sri Lankan national who was under police surveillance.
The man, who has not been identified, was inspired by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, Ms Ardern said.
Police killed the man within 60 seconds of the attack on Friday.
“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful it was wrong,” Ms Ardern said in a news conference.
“It was carried out by an individual, not a faith.”
She added that she was “absolutely gutted” to hear about the attack.
Of the six wounded people, three are in a critical condition and one is in a serious condition, health officials say.
The attack took place at the Countdown supermarket at LynnMall in the district of New Lynn on Friday afternoon.
The attacker reportedly took a large knife from a display cabinet in the store and went on a stabbing spree.
Police surveillance teams had been close by the entire time.
Zealand’s PM say incident at supermarket was a “terrorist attack”
One witness told news outlet Stuff NZ that the supermarket was a scene of hysteria, and footage shared online showed people fleeing before the sound of gun shots could be heard.
“[People were] running out, hysterically, just screaming, yelling, scared,” the witness said, adding that he saw an elderly man lying on the ground with a stab wound.
The culprit, whose identity cannot be revealed due to court suppression orders, arrived in New Zealand in October 2011. He became a person of national security interest in 2016.
He had been under round-the-clock monitoring and heavy surveillance due to concerns about his ideology.
He was known to multiple agencies, and was also on a terror watchlist.
Ms Ardern said that until Friday, he had not committed any offence. When asked about the man’s motivations, she said they were “Isis-inspired”.
Questions have been raised about why action against him was not taken before six people were injured – especially since he was under close surveillance.
“The reality is, that when you are surveilling someone on a 24/7 basis, it is not possible to be immediately next to them at all times. The staff intervened as quickly as they could and they prevented further injury in what was a terrifying situation,” said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
He added that the attacker was very surveillance-conscious, and that teams needed to maintain a distance to be effective.
Authorities are confident the attacker was acting alone and that there is no further danger to the community, according to Mr Coster.
Leave a Reply