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Extremist on New Zealand terror watchlist shot dead after supermarket knife rampage
3 September 2021, 06:34 | Updated: 3 September 2021, 09:51
An extremist said to be 'inspired by ISIS' has been shot dead in New Zealand after stabbing several people at a supermarket in Auckland.
At least six people were injured at a Countdown store in New Lynn, according to local reports.
Three of the victims are described as 'critical' with neck and chest wounds.
Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern confirmed at a press conference that it was a "terrorist attack" and that the assailant was a "violent extremist" who was under surveillance around the clock.
She said the man, identified only as 'S', was a Sri Lankan national who was inspired by Isis and was known to the nation’s security agencies.
Ms Ardern, who apologised for the attack, added that, by law, the individual was not allowed to be kept in prison.
She said the attacker is considered one of the nation's most dangerous extremists and had been watched 24/7 since 2016. He arrived in New Zealand in 2011.
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 a press conference on Friday afternoon.
Footage posted on social media apparently recorded in the shopping centre records the sound of 10 gunshots being fired in quick succession.
Auckland is currently under strict lockdown restrictions amid a coronavirus outbreak, meaning most businesses are shut.
The attacker became a person of national security interest in 2016, Ms Ardern confirmed.
Questions have immediately been 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."