An Auckland attack in a New Zealand supermarket resulted in the stabbing of six people on Friday, with three in critical condition. The terrorist attack, carried out by an ISIS supporter, occurred at the New Lynn Countdown supermarket in the LynnMall Shopping Centre.
The suspect was apparently under watch, but his identity has yet to be revealed. Authorities said that he was a Sri Lankan national and “known security threat.” According to CNN, the Auckland supermarket extremist was under constant surveillance by multiple government organizations and has been a person of interest since 2016.
Officers were able to get to the attacker in just 60 seconds, but not before he was able to injure six people.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said that the “lone actor” purchased the knife at a store in the LynnMall Shopping Centre, and that the motive was tied to support of “ISIS ideology.”
“I acknowledge this situation poses questions about whether police could have acted faster or done more,” Coster said. “I am confident we have done everything we can within the law. We were doing everything we could to monitor him. The fact we were able to react within 60 seconds shows that.”
“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,” he continued. “The staff intervened as quickly as they could, and they prevented further injury in what was a terrifying situation.”
Auckland authorities have been on the scene trying to figure out what happened that led the suspect to carry out his rampage. The names of the stabbing victims have not been revealed, but so far there are no reported casualties.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the Auckland attack “senseless” and apologized for it happening under her administration. She said that she was “personally aware” of the suspect, whose identity she did not share because previous court orders prevented her from releasing that information.
On high alert ever since the Christchurch mosque shooting from over two years ago, the press asked Arden if the attacker could have been potentially seeking revenge. The white supremacist, named Brenton H. Tarrant, attacked two mosques back in March 2019 killed 51 people and injured another 40 before authorities arrived. He became the first criminal in New Zealand to be sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for release.
“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong,” said Arden, but to her understanding, “it was carried out by an individual, not a faith.”
“He alone carries the responsibility for these acts,” the Prime Minister said. The Auckland attack was due to, “an individual person who is gripped by ideology that is not supported here by anyone or any community.”
The Auckland attack came as a surprise to New Zealanders, especially since the city was under a Level 4 lockdown due to spikes in Covid-19 cases. Most shops in the city were closed, with most people forced to stay inside, but supermarkets have remained open because they are viewed as essential.
Countdown Supermarket released a statement saying that it was “”devastated” by the Auckland attack that occurred in one of their stores. “Our hearts are heavy knowing what our team and customers have witnessed and been through,” the statement read.
According to authorities, the suspect appeared to just be grocery shopping before the Auckland attack began.
“”We used every element and lever in the law that was available,” Prime Minister Ardern said. “Had he done something that would have allowed us to put him into prison, he would have been in prison.”