Man who stabbed seven people at New Zealand supermarket named

4 September 2021, 13:13 | Updated: 4 September 2021, 13:59

Police responded to the stabbings at the Countdown store within 60 seconds
Police responded to the stabbings at the Countdown store within 60 seconds. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The "violent extremist" who stabbed seven people at a New Zealand supermarket on Friday has been named as Ahamed Samsudeen.

Sri Lankan national Samsudeen, who arrived in New Zealand on a student visa in 2011, had previously been charged several times with offences such as possessing knives and extremist publications.

On Saturday, the New Zealand government named the 32-year-old as the Isis-inspired extremist who was shot and killed by police after he attacked people in an Auckland shopping centre the previous day.

Authorities had labelled the assailant at such a high risk that he was being monitored by up to 30 police officers in the weeks prior to the attack.

Read more: Auckland knife attacker on terror watchlist shot dead after rampage

Read more: Cheaper wine on the cards as Govt closes in on New Zealand trade deal

The attacker was said to be inspired by Isis and well-known to authorities
The attacker was said to be inspired by Isis and well-known to authorities. Picture: Alamy

More than four years earlier Samsudeen was arrested at Auckland Airport on the suspicion that he was aiming to reach Syria.

He has since spent three years in jail in relation to a number of charges and was released this July under certain conditions.

Three of the victims were described as being in critical conditions with neck and chest wounds but there have been no deaths reported so far. 

On Friday, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern confirmed at a press conference it was a "terrorist attack" and that the assailant was a "violent extremist" who was under surveillance around the clock.

Read more: New Zealand borders to stay closed until start of next year

Watch: UK is 'pursuing herd immunity again' says New Zealand pandemic adviser

Police at the scene of the stabbing bloodbath at the supermarket in Auckland
Police at the scene of the stabbing bloodbath at the supermarket in Auckland. Picture: Getty

She said the man, formerly identified only as 'S', was known to the nation’s security agencies but added that, by law, the individual was not allowed to be kept in prison.

Ms Ardern said the attacker was considered one of the nation's most dangerous extremists and had been watched 24/7 since 2016.

The PM explained that the offender was shot by police within 60 seconds of the attacks taking place.

"What happened today was despicable, it was hateful it was wrong," she said during the press conference, before apologising for the attack.

Footage posted on social media apparently recorded in the shopping centre includes the sound of 10 gunshots being fired in quick succession.

Staff at the supermarket were visibly distressed following the stabbings
Staff at the supermarket were visibly distressed following the stabbings. Picture: Getty

Auckland is currently under strict lockdown restrictions amid a coronavirus outbreak, meaning most businesses are shut.

Questions were immediately raised as to why actions were not taken earlier to prevent him from carrying out the stabbings.

Responding, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster 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."

One eyewitness, who claimed to see an elderly man lying on the ground with a stab wound, described a scene of hysteria to news outlet Stuff NZ: "[People were] running out, hysterically, just screaming, yelling, scared."

Countdown's general manger of safety, Kiri Hannifin said she was "devastated by what's taken place in our Lynnmall store. We will be supporting all of our LynnMall team... Countdown Lynnmall will be closed until further notice".

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