Terrorist attack in New Zealand: “violent extremist” stabbed supermarket, says PM Jacinda Ardern | World news
A man, inspired by ISIS ideology, who stabbed at least six people in a supermarket was a “violent extremist” known to police, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
The man was shot dead by police within 60 seconds of the start of his attack on a Countdown store in Auckland.
The man was a Sri Lankan national and lived in New Zealand since 2011.
“A violent extremist carried out a terrorist attack against innocent New Zealanders”, Jacinda Ardern said Friday in a briefing.
The man cannot be named due to a removal order currently in effect.
He had been known to several agencies since 2016, with Ms Ardern confirming that she was personally aware of the individual – adding that she was sorry to hear what had happened.
She said: “He was someone who was known to our national security agencies and was of concern and was constantly monitored. There are very few who fall into this category.”
Police following the man believed he had gone to the New Lynn supermarket to shop, but he pulled out what one witness described as a large knife and started stabbing people.
“There is someone here with a knife… he has a knife,” we heard in a video posted online after the attack.
Another recorded the sound of ten shots fired in rapid succession.
“We were doing absolutely everything we could to watch him and the fact that we were able to intervene so quickly, in about 60 seconds, shows how closely we are watching him,” said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
Described as a “lone wolf”, Ms Ardern said the attacker was a “supporter of ISIS” and inspired by extremist ideology.
The man was not allowed to be kept in prison by law, she said.
Of the six injured, three were in critical condition, one in serious condition and another in moderate condition, the St. John Ambulance Service said in a statement to Reuters.
Ms Ardern said any reaction against the Muslim community “would be false” and said the attacker “is the one responsible, no one else”.
“What happened today was despicable, it was heinous, it was wrong. It was achieved by an individual, not by a faith,” she added.
Security in the country will remain at an average level.
New Zealand has been on high alert for attacks since a white supremacist gunman killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch city on March 15, 2019. In May, four people were stabbed in a supermarket in Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand.
Auckland is strictly on lockdown as it battles a coronavirus outbreak. Most businesses are closed, and people are generally only allowed to leave their homes for groceries, medical needs, or exercise.