PM Jacinda Ardern says supermarket stabbing was ‘terrorist attack’

‘It was hateful, it was wrong’: Six injured in NZ stabbing attack

An attack at a New Zealand supermarket was “a terrorist attack” by a “violent extremist” who follows Islamic State ideology and who had been under heavy surveillance by police, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

At least six people were injured in a stabbing attack at a supermarket in the New Zealand city of Auckland before police shot the suspect dead.

The alleged terrorist was a Sri Lankan national who arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and became a person of national security interest from 2016, authorities said.

Ardern said his ideology was IS-inspired, but he was a “lone-wolf”.

“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.

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.

“Had he done something that would have allowed us to put him into prison, he would have been in prison,” Ardern said.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said authorities were confident the man was acting alone and there was no further danger to the community.

He said a police surveillance team and a specialist tactics group had followed the man from his home in the suburb of Glen Eden to the supermarket in New Lynn.

“There is still a heavy police presence in the scene at 7pm and the area is still cordoned off,” she said.

“Police forces are still investigating the incident and they will stay until late at night to piece together what exactly happened.”

What do we know about the attacker?

The man, whose identity cannot be revealed due to court suppression orders, arrived in New Zealand in October 2011. He became a person of national security interest in 2016.

He had been under round-the-clock monitoring and heavy surveillance due to concerns about his ideology. He was known to multiple agencies, and was also on a terror watchlist.

Ms Ardern said that until Friday, he had not committed any offence. When asked about the man’s motivations, she said they were “Isis-inspired”.

Questions have been raised about why action against him was not taken before six people were injured – especially since he was under close surveillance.

“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 added that the attacker was very surveillance-conscious, and that teams needed to maintain a distance to be effective.

Authorities are confident the attacker was acting alone and that there is no further danger to the community, according to Mr Coster.


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