Authorities in New Zealand were so concerned about an Islamic State-inspired extremist that they were tracking him around the clock and were able to shoot and kill him within 60 seconds of him unleashing a frenzied knife attack that injured six people Friday at an Auckland supermarket.
New Zealand police kill ‘ISIS-inspired extremist’ after he stabs 6 people in supermarket
Three of the shoppers were taken to Auckland hospitals in critical condition, police said. Another was in serious condition, while two more were in moderate condition.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the incident was a terrorist attack. She said the man was a Sri Lankan national who was inspired by the Islamic State group and was well known to the nation’s security agencies.
Ardern said she had been personally informed about the man in the past, but there was no legal reason for him to be detained.
“If he had done anything that would have allowed us to put him in prison, he would have been in prison,” Ardern said.
The attack unfolded around 2:40 p.m. at a Countdown supermarket in New Zealand’s largest city.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said a police surveillance team and a specialist tactical group had followed the man from his home in the suburb of Glen Eden to the supermarket in New Lynn.
But while they had serious concerns about the man, they had no particular reason to think he was planning an attack on Friday, Coster said.
“He entered the store, as he had done before. He obtained a knife inside the store,” Coster said. “Surveillance teams were as close as possible to monitor his activity.”
Witnesses said the man shouted “Allahu akbar,” meaning God is great, and began stabbing random shoppers, causing people to run and scream.
Coster said that when the commotion started, two police officers from the special tactics group rushed in. He said the man charged at the officers with the knife, so they shot and killed him.