WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A man inspired by the Islamic State group stabbed six people at a New Zealand supermarket in a terrorist attack on Friday before police, who had the man under surveillance, shot him dead, authorities said.
Prime Minister Jacinda 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.
She said six people were wounded, three critically, before police who were monitoring him opened fire within 60 seconds of the attack starting.
One bystander video taken inside the supermarket records the sound of ten shots being fired in rapid succession.
“The attack at New Lynn Countdown was a terrorist attack carried out by a violent extremist,” Ardern said, adding it was not representative of any faith or community. “What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong.”
Asked about the man’s motivations, she said: “it was a violent ideology and ISIS-inspired,” using another name for the Islamic State group.
Terrorist attack in New Zealand 6 people injured, officials say this is ISIS influenced attack. pic.twitter.com/nh8Rez7uBc
— Mark Kennedy (@RealMarkKennedy) September 3, 2021
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.
She added that by law, the man was not allowed to be kept in prison.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said authorities were confident the man was acting alone and there was no further danger to the community.
Auckland is currently under a strict lockdown as it battles an outbreak of the coronavirus. Most businesses are shut and people are generally allowed to leave their homes only to buy groceries, for medical needs, or to exercise.
New Zealand’s worst terror attack was the Christchurch mosque shootings in March 2019, when a white supremacist gunman murdered 51 Muslim worshippers and severely wounded another 40.