After stabbing and wounding at least six people at an Auckland supermarket, police shot and killed a “violent extremist.”
The event, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, was a “terrorist attack” carried out by a Sri Lankan citizen who was under police surveillance.
Ms. Ardern said that the individual, who has not been identified, was motivated by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.
The guy was shot and killed by police 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 went on to say that hearing of the attack had left her “absolutely gutted.”
Three of the six injured individuals are in critical condition, while one is in severe condition, according to health officials.
How did the attack unfold?
On Friday afternoon, it happened at the Countdown supermarket in LynnMall in the New Lynn district.
The attacker allegedly took a large knife from a store display cabinet and proceeded on a stabbing spree. All through the time, police surveillance teams had been close by.
The supermarket was a scene of panic, according to one witness, and video posted online showed people running before the sound of gunshots 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.
What do we know about the attacker?
Due to court orders, the man’s name cannot be disclosed. He landed in New Zealand in October 2011. In 2016, he was designated as a person of national security interest.
Due to concerns about his ideology, he had been subjected to round-the-clock monitoring and severe surveillance. Multiple agencies had him on their radar, and he was also on a terror watchlist.
Ms. Ardern said that until Friday, he had not committed any offense. When asked about the man’s motivations, she said they were “Isis-inspired”.
There have been questions regarding why no action was taken against him before six people were wounded, particularly considering he was under constant observation.
“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 went on to say that the attacker was extremely aware of his surroundings and that teams needed to keep a safe distance to be successful.
According to Mr. Coster, authorities are convinced that the assailant was operating alone and that the neighborhood is no longer in danger.