‘What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong,’ says New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
A “violent extremist”, who was being monitored by authorities, stabbed and injured six people in a supermarket in New Zealand before he was shot dead by police.
The attack took place at about 2.40pm at a Countdown store at a shopping centre in the New Lynn area of Auckland on Friday.
All six people injured were taken to hospital, with three of them in a critical condition. Another is in serious condition, while two more are in moderate condition.
One bystander video taken inside the supermarket recorded the sound of 10 shots being fired in rapid succession.
Some shoppers reportedly tried to help those who were injured with towels and nappies.
What is known about the attacker?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a terror attack carried out by a Sri Lankan national who was inspired by the so-called Islamic State group and was known to be a threat by security agencies.
She said the man, who arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and became a person of national security interest from 2016, was monitored around the clock – but, by law, he was not allowed to be kept in prison.
“Had he done something that would have allowed us to put him into prison, he would have been in prison,” Ms Ardern said.
How did the incident unfold?
The man was under constant monitoring by a police surveillance team at the time of the incident, Ms Ardern said, which was how a special tactics group were able to shoot him within 60 seconds.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said although police had concerns about the man, they had no particular reason to think he was planning an attack on Friday. The man appeared to be going into the supermarket to do his shopping.
Mr Coster said officers kept very close tabs on him and followed him from his home to the supermarket on Friday.
He said: “He entered the store, as he had done before. He obtained a knife from within the store. Surveillance teams were as close as they possibly could be to monitor his activity.”
Mr Coster said when the attack happened, two police from the special tactics group rushed over. He said the man approached police with the knife and so they shot and killed him.
Prime Minister Ms Ardern said: “This was a violent attack. It was senseless. And I am so sorry that it happened.”
She continued: “To everyone who was there and who witnessed such a horrific event, I can’t imagine how they will be feeling in the aftermath. But thank you for coming to the aid of those who needed you when they needed you.”
Wrapping up her statement, she said: “What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual – not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity – but an individual person who was gripped by ideology that is not supported here, by anyone or any community.
“He alone carries the responsibility for these acts. Let that be where the judgement falls.”
Ms Ardern said legal constraints prevented her from discussing everything that she wanted to about the case, but she was hoping to have those constraints lifted soon.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff tweeted urging people to “please stay safe and look out for one another”, adding: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident in New Lynn.”
The attack comes just over two years after New Zealand suffered dreadful terror attacks at mosques in Christchurch during Friday Prayer, with 51 people killed.
Auckland is in a strict lockdown due to a Covid-19 outbreak. Most businesses are shut and people are only allowed to leave their homes only to buy food, for medical needs or to exercise.