New Zealand police shoot man dead after he launches 'Isis inspired' supermarket terror attack
The man launched the attack after taking a large knife from a display case at a Countdown supermarket in Auckland
An extremist who was under surveillance in New Zealand has been shot dead after he stabbed and wounded at least six people at an Auckland supermarket in an "Isis-inspired" attack.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the event on Friday as a "terrorist attack" by a Sri Lankan national who was under police surveillance. She said the man, who was killed within 60 seconds of launching his stabbing spree, was inspired by the so-called Islamic State group.
"What happened today was despicable, it was hateful it was wrong," Ardern said in a press conference on Friday afternoon.
"It was carried out by an individual, not a faith."
She added that she was "absolutely gutted" to hear about the attack.
One witness told news website Stuff NZ that the supermarket was a scene of hysteria during the attack. Videos on social media show panicked shoppers running out of the supermarket before the sound of gunshots could be heard.
"[People were] running out, hysterically, just screaming, yelling, scared," the witness said, adding that he saw an elderly man lying on the ground with a stab wound.
The attack unfolded at a Countdown supermarket at Lynnmall, in the New Lynn suburb of the city, after the man reportedly took a large knife from a display cabinet.
Surveillance teams were nearby the entire time. The man had been under constant monitoring and heavy surveillance due to concerns about his ideology, was on a terror watchlist and was known to multiple agencies. However, until Friday, Ardern said, he had not committed any offences that would lead to arrest or detention.
Police have been quizzed on why action wasn't taken against the man sooner, to prevent the stabbings.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has said: "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."
He added that the attacker was very surveillance-conscious, and that teams needed to maintain a distance to be effective.
Coster said authorities are confident the man acted alone and there was no further danger to the community.
The man, whose identity cannot be revealed due to court suppression orders, arrived in New Zealand in October 2011 and became a person of national security interest in 2016.
The Auckland attack comes after New Zealand suffered its worst terror attack in 2019 when a white supremacist gunman murdered 51 Muslim worshippers across two mosques in Christchurch.