What Is Known So Far About New Zealand’s Supermarket Stabbing Spree ‘Terrorist’

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knife-wielding

“extremist” who had been under round-the-clock surveillance due to concerns about his ideology was shot and killed by New Zealand police on Friday. The attacker, a Sri Lankan national who had been in New Zealand for 10 years, had entered the Countdown supermarket at LynnMall in the district of New Lynn on Friday afternoon.

​He picked up a knife from a display and started “running around like a lunatic” stabbing people, according to Stuff online news outlet. Police surveillance teams had been close by throughout the incident. New Zealand Herald cited a witness as claiming the man had shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).

Footage posted on social media showed people in the supermarket seconds after the attacker struck exclaiming, “There’s someone here with a knife … he’s got a knife”, “Somebody got stabbed.”

The man was killed within 60 seconds of initiating the attack, which left six wounded people, three in critical condition, with neck and chest wounds, according to the St John ambulance service. Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told a news briefing the perpetrator had acted alone and there was no further threat to the public.

“We were doing absolutely everything possible to monitor him and indeed the fact that we were able to intervene so quickly, in roughly 60 seconds, shows just how closely we were watching him,” Coster said.

The Police Commissioner said the man had been tailed by both a police surveillance team and a specialist tactics group after he left his home in the suburb of Glen Eden. The perpetrator appeared to be going into the store to do shopping.

“He entered the store, as he had done before. He obtained a knife from within the store. Surveillance teams were as close as they possibly could be to monitor his activity,” said Coster.

According to the police chief, the man had been aware of the constant surveillance he was placed under.

As the stabbing attack unleashed, two police from the special tactics group rushed to the man, who brandished a knife at them and was subsequently shot and killed.

‘Inspired by Daesh*’

“A violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack on innocent New Zealanders,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news briefing in the wake of the incident, adding the man had been inspired by the Daesh* ideology.

Known only as ‘S’, the 32-year-old Sri Lankan national was on the nation’s 24/7 watchlist since 2016, according to the PM, but had not committed sufficient crimes to be detained.

“If he had committed a criminal act that would have allowed him to be in prison, that’s where he would have been. Unfortunately, he didn’t… instead he was being monitored constantly, constantly, and followed,” she said.


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REUTERS / REUTERS TV

A screen grab shows police officers working outside a shopping mall following a knife attack in Auckland, New Zealand September 3, 202

As to why he was under surveillance, the details are subject to court suppression orders. Ardern revealed she was “gutted” that he was able to carry out the attack despite being monitored. When asked if the Friday attack could have been revenge for the 2019 shootings, when a white gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of

Christchurch

on March 15, the Prime Minister replied that it was currently not clear what had motivated the man to violence.

“It was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith… It would be wrong to direct any frustration to anyone beyond this individual,” Ardern said.