A man armed with a knife who went on a rampage through a shopping centre in New Zealand on Friday afternoon has been labelled a “violent extremist” and a “lone wolf” by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who also described the incident as a terror attack.
Per the Sydney Morning Herald, the man injured six people during his frenzied attack on a supermarket in Auckland on Friday, before being shot dead by authorities within a minute of the attack. Three of the injured citizens are in a critical condition at the time of writing.
The man – a Sri Lankan national living in New Zealand since 2011 who had been a person of national security interest since 2016, and has been under police surveillance 24hrs a day – attacked people queuing up to enter the Countdown supermarket at LynMall at around 12.40pm AEST. He was also seen slashing at people in the aisles of the supermarket.
“He was obviously a supporter of ISIS ideology,” Ardern said at a press conference following the incident.
“It was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith. He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”
She also confirmed that further information about the attacker’s history with authorities have been suppressed by the courts, and the New Zealand government is currently finding a way to release that information.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said that surveillance teams had eyes on the man as he travelled from his home in Glen Eden about 5km away from the mall, before entering the supermarket, grabbing a knife, and attacking people in the store.
Coster said that the surveillance teams acted “with great courage” to intervene within 60 seconds of the terror attack, and stressed it was important for teams to maintain distance from persons of interest. Ardern added that authorities have been “using every single possible means” to protect New Zealanders from this particular individual.