ISIS supporter shot dead after New Zealand shopping mall 'terrorist attack'

“This afternoon at approximately 2:40 p.m., a violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack,” mentioned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a information convention Friday afternoon. “This was a violent attack, it was senseless, and I am so sorry it happened.”

Ardern added that the person was a Sri Lankan nationwide, a “supporter of ISIS ideology,” and a “known security threat.” He was underneath fixed surveillance by a number of authorities companies, and safety personnel have been in a position to shoot and kill him inside 60 seconds from the beginning of the assault, she mentioned.

The attacker obtained a knife inside the retailer and used it to stab customers earlier than police shot him, mentioned New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, who described him as a lone actor. The man died on the scene.

Videos posted on-line confirmed panicked customers working out of the LynnMall Shopping Centre and on the lookout for cowl because the state of affairs unfolded.

Six individuals have been injured, emergency crews mentioned, with three in vital situation. Heavily armed police and ambulances stay on the scene, and authorities have cordoned off the encompassing streets.

The attacker got here to New Zealand in 2011 and have become an individual of curiosity in October 2016, authorities mentioned.

Ardern didn’t publicly share the person’s identification, saying he had confronted court docket up to now and suppression orders prevented officers from releasing sure details about him.

The Prime Minister added that she had been “personally aware” of him earlier than the assault, and authorities have been monitoring him as a result of they may not preserve him in jail.

“I acknowledge this situation poses questions about whether police could have acted faster or done more,” Coster mentioned. “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.”

Auckland was already underneath a Level 4 lockdown, the nation’s most stringent stage, on account of surging coronavirus circumstances — which means most retailers are closed and most of the people should keep dwelling. Supermarkets stay open as an important service.

Countdown, the grocery store chain that owns the LynnMall location, mentioned in a press release it was “devastated” by the assault.

“Our hearts are heavy knowing what our team and customers have witnessed and been through,” the assertion mentioned.

New Zealand has been on alert for assaults since a white supremacist gunman killed 51 individuals at two mosques within the metropolis of Christchurch on March 15, 2019.

Ardern, requested if the Friday assault might have been revenge for the 2019 mosque shootings, mentioned it was not clear. The man alone who was liable for the violence, not a religion, she mentioned.

“It was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith,” Ardern mentioned. “He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”

Reuters contributed reporting.

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