Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has condemned a terror attack in an Auckland supermarket which has left one man dead and six people seriously injured.
The Prime Minister said that at around 2.40pm, a violent extremist who had been under Police surveillance for five years undertook a terrorist attack in the New Lynn Countdown supermarket in west Auckland.
The man, who she said was inspired by the Islamic State militant group, was shot dead by police but not before the Sri Lankan national was able to viciously stab six customers inside the store.
“I want to acknowledge these six innocent people who have been attacked. Three are seriously injured. This was a violent attack. It was a senseless attack and i am so sorry it happened,” Prime Minister Ardern 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 who was gripped by ideology that is not supported here by anyone or any community.”
“He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”
The Prime Minister told reporters at a press conference this afternoon that she was “absolutely gutted” when informed of the attack.
She went on to confirm that the man had been under intense police surveillance since he became a person of national security interest in 2016. He had arrived in New Zealand from Sri Lanka in October 2011.
Police Commissioner, Andrew Coster said the man had travelled from his home in Glen Eden to the New Lynn supermarket prior to the attack.
“He was closely watched by surveillance teams and a technical team to monitor his actions and behaviours.”
“He entered the store, as he has done before. He obtained a knife from within the store. Surveillance teams were as close as they possibly could be to monitor his activity,” the Commissioner said.
When the attack began, two police tactical officers from the STG moved in and shot the man after he approached them with a knife. It’s understood six shots were fired by police.
He said police had acted within 60 seconds of the attack taking place. The Commissioner moved to assure the public that there was no ongoing threat in relation to the man’s associates.
“We know from our extensive monitoring that he was acting alone.”
Other shoppers in the supermarket have reported grabbing tea towels and nappies from the shelves to try and help those who were wounded in the attack.
“To everyone who was there and who witnessed such an horrific event – I can’t imagine how they are feeling in the aftermath but thank you for coming to the aid of those people,” Prime Minister Ardern said.
She told a packed media conference that the Government and Police were not able to pass on any further details about the man and his activities at this stage.
“The detailed reasons he is known to the agencies is the subject of suppression orders made by the court,” Ms Ardern said.
“In my view, it is in the public interest to hear as much as we can. In this case, I’m seeking advice on what we can do to facilitate that sharing of information as soon as possible.”
“But please know we have utilised every legal and surveillance power to try and keep people safe from this individual.
“If we had reached a threshold for him to be in prison, he would have been in prison,” the Prime Minister said.