New Zealand police on Friday shot and killed a “violent extremist” who was known to the police, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, after he stabbed and wounded at least six people in a supermarket in the city of Auckland.
“A violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack on innocent New Zealanders,” Ardern told a briefing.
Ardern said the man, a Sri Lankan national who arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and was on a terror watchlist, entered a shopping mall in suburban Auckland, seized a knife from a display and went on a stabbing spree.
The man was killed within 60 seconds of beginning the attack, she said, adding that he had been inspired by the Islamic State (IS) group.
She said six people were wounded, three critically, before police who were monitoring him opened fire within 60 seconds of the attack starting.
“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong,” said Ardern, adding it was not representative of any faith or community.
Ardern said she was limited in what she could say publicly about the man, who had been under surveillance since 2016, because he was the subject of court suppression orders.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said authorities were confident the man was acting alone and there was no further danger to the community.
‘He’s got a knife’
A video posted on social media showed shoppers in the New Lynn supermarket shortly after the attacker struck.
“There’s someone here with a knife… he’s got a knife,” a woman can be heard saying. “Somebody got stabbed.”
Gunshots: Scenes during armed robbery attempt at Countdown Lynnmall, New Lynn, New Zealand, where a man shot and injured several people. The attacker has since been shot by police officers.
A Zimbabwean citizen currently trapped in the shop next door speaks ZimEye. More follows pic.twitter.com/l53Q5gSrrQ
— ZimEye (@ZimEye) September 3, 2021
A guard asked people to leave the shopping mall shortly before about six shots rang out.
Of the six wounded people, 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.
Witnesses told reporters outside the mall they had seen several people lying on the floor with stab wounds. Other said they heard gunshots as they ran out of the supermarket.
Videos posted online earlier showed panicked shoppers running out of the mall and looking for cover.
New Zealand has been on alert for attacks since a white supremacist gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019.
In May, four people were stabbed in a supermarket in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)