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‘Violent extremist’ shot dead within 60 seconds of Auckland attack

“He was obviously a supporter of ISIS ideology,” Ardern said, acknowledging that she was personally aware of him as a threat risk.

Speaking about the attack before taking questions, Ardern said: “It was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith. He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”

Ardern said she believed it was in the public interest to share more about the man’s history, but said details of the man’s history with authorities in New Zealand had been suppressed by the courts and urged people to be patient while her government worked to find a way to release them.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said while there would be questions about whether officers could have done more to stop the stabbing which left six people injured, he was satisfied police members did “not only what we expect they would do in the situation, but did it with great courage”.

Coster said the perpetrator had travelled from his home from Glen Eden, in Auckland’s south-west, to the nearby Countdown supermarket in New Lynn where he was watched by surveillance and tactical teams.

The man then obtained a knife from within the store and began the attack, with authorities intervening in just 60 seconds from when the incident began.

“[Police teams] need to maintain sufficient distance for surveillance to be effective, so they were as close as they possibly could be without compromising the surveillance,” he said.

Ardern said the authorities were not looking for anyone else in relation to the stabbing, and she was confident the man was a lone-wolf actor who had a “violent ideology and (was) ISIS-inspired”.

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Looking shaky and drawn during the press conference, Ardern said she was “absolutely gutted” by the attack and said there had been nothing to indicate that the man was going to carry out the attack on Friday.

“I can tell you the agencies were using every single possible means available to them to protect the New Zealand public from this individual,” she said.

“Of all of the tools that we have, constant monitoring and surveillance … is one of the strongest that we have, and that is what was attached to this individual. The fact that he was in the community will be an illustration of the fact that we haven’t succeeded in using the law, to the extent we would have liked.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted a statement condemning “the horrific terrorist attack in Auckland”.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected. We stand with our Kiwi family in deploring all such violent acts designed to create fear and divide us. Kia kaha New Zealand.”

The attack comes only two weeks after Kabul fell to Taliban militants, spurring fears that extremists in other parts of the world would be inspired to carry out attacks. There is no evidence, however, that the Auckland attack was in any way inspired by events in Afghanistan.

Ambulance service St John New Zealand said three patients in a critical condition and one patient in a serious condition had been taken to Auckland city hospital. Another patient in a moderate condition was at Waitakere Hospital, while a sixth patient also in a moderate condition was being treated at Middlemore Hospital.

A witness, Tim, who did not want his last name used, said he saw an elderly man lying on the ground with a stab wound to his abdomen. A middle-aged woman was also stabbed in the shoulder, he said.

Michelle Miller was doing her afternoon shop when she saw the scene unfold.

She said the man was “running around like a lunatic” and attacking people.

“All I heard was a lot of screaming,” she said.

Miller, who fled the supermarket as police rushed in, said she heard officers ordering the man to give himself up and get on the ground before shots were fired.

Shoppers were evacuated from the shopping mall by police.

Shoppers were evacuated from the shopping mall by police.Credit:Stuff

Another witness, Brittany Denyer, was about to park to enter the shopping centre when police officers ran up to her and told her to “hurry up and evacuate immediately”.

“People were panicking, and it was a gridlock trying to get out of New Lynn. Police and ambulances [were] everywhere. I was told by another police officer while I was waiting to be diverted that someone had been stabbed,” she said.

Videos posted online showed panicked shoppers running out of the shopping mall and looking for cover as the situation unfolded.

Auckland is currently under strict stage-four lockdown due to a coronavirus outbreak, but people have been queuing outside supermarkets and pharmacies.

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