New Zealand authorities were so concerned about an Islamic extremist that they were able to track him around the clock and shoot and kill him within 60 seconds after he set off a furious knife attack in an Auckland supermarket on Friday that left six people injured became.
Three of the buyers were taken to hospitals in Auckland in critical condition, police said. Another was in serious condition while two others were in moderate condition. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke of a terrorist attack. She said the man is a Sri Lankan national who is inspired by the Islamic State group and is well known to the country’s security agencies.
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Ardern said she had been personally briefed about the man in the past, but there was no legal reason for his detention. “Had he done something that would have allowed us to put him in jail, he would have been in jail,” said Ardern.
Police pursue attackers
The attack occurred around 2:40 p.m. in a countdown supermarket in New Zealand’s largest city. Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said a police surveillance team and a specialized tactical group followed the man from his home to the supermarket.
But while they had serious concerns about the man, there was no particular reason to believe he was planning an attack on Friday, Coster said. The man appeared to be going into the store to do his grocery shopping as he had done in the past.
“He entered the shop as he had before. He got a knife from the store, ”said Coster. “Surveillance teams were as close as possible to monitoring his activities.” Coster said when the riot began, two officers from the special tactics group rushed over. He said the man attacked the officers with the knife and they shot him.
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A spectator video recorded from inside the supermarket records the sound of 10 shots fired in quick succession. Coster said there were questions about whether the police could have acted any faster. He said the man is well aware of the constant surveillance and that they need some distance from him for it to be effective. Ardern said the attack was violent and pointless and she is sorry it happened.
Attack of the lone wolf
“What happened today was horrific. It was hateful. It was wrong, ”said Ardern. “It was done by one person. No belief, no culture, no ethnicity. But a single person who is gripped by an ideology that is not supported by anyone or any community here. ”Ardern said the man moved to New Zealand for the first time in 2011 and has been monitored by security authorities since 2016. She said authorities were confident he acted alone in the attack.
Ardern said legal restrictions prevented her from discussing anything she wanted about the case, but she hoped those restrictions would be lifted soon. Some shoppers in the supermarket tried to help the injured by grabbing towels and diapers and anything else they could find on the shelves.
“For everyone who was there and witnessed such a terrible event, I cannot imagine how they will feel afterwards,” said Ardern. “But thank you for coming to the aid of those who needed you when they needed you.”
Extremist ideologies are rare in New Zealand, and Ardern said only a tiny number of people would be exposed to such intense surveillance. Auckland is currently under strict lockdown as it battles a coronavirus outbreak. Most of the shops are closed and people are generally only allowed to leave their homes for shopping, medical purposes, or sports.