Six customers have been injured in a stabbing at a supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Three of them are in life-threatening conditions. The police shot the assailant, he died on the spot from his injuries. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks of a terrorist act.
“The Sri Lankan perpetrator was known to us. We were able to kill him in 60 seconds. He was inspired by IS,” she said. “What happened today was despicable. It was hateful and wrong. But the act was performed by an individual, not by a belief. He was under the spell of an ideology that no one here supports.”
The perpetrator came to New Zealand from Sri Lanka in 2011 and has been under police guard since 2016. Police were monitoring him at the time of the incident, Commissioner Andrew Costner said. Officers were nearby when the attack took place. “But the reality is that you can’t be right next to him at any time, even if he’s monitored 24/7. Our staff intervened as quickly as possible and prevented worse.”
Videos show shoppers running out in panic. They warn others that “someone with a knife” is going on. Shots are heard shortly afterwards.
Serious violence is rare in New Zealand. It is therefore rare for officers — who normally do not carry weapons — to shoot suspects. The drama in Christchurch is still fresh in their mind. An Australian shot and killed 51 people in two mosques in March 2019.
Auckland is currently in a very strict lockdown due to an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus. Residents are only allowed to leave their homes to go to the supermarket, the doctor or the hospital.