New Zealand authorities say Islamic terrorist stabbed 6 at supermarket; suspect dead

The Sri Lankan national was a known ISIS supporter, the country's prime minister says

Authorities in New Zealand say they shot and killed an Islamic terrorist on Friday afternoon, within 60 seconds of when he started stabbing people at a supermarket.

Of the six people stabbed, three were in critical condition, one was serious and two were in moderate condition, according to outlet Stuff New Zealand.  

The man, a Sri Lankan national, was a known ISIS supporter and was being followed around the clock, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, identifying the incident as a terror attack. 

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"A violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack on innocent New Zealanders," Ardern said in the briefing, BBC News reported. "What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith." 

"What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith." 

— Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media at a news conference in Wellington about an Auckland supermarket terror attack, Sept. 3, 2021. (Getty Images)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media at a news conference in Wellington about an Auckland supermarket terror attack, Sept. 3, 2021. (Getty Images)

Video taken in the store shows shoppers scattering amid the chaos.

The suspect was being watched after he was sentenced last month to one year of supervision for possession of ISIS propaganda, specifically a video of people being murdered, according to Stuff. He had been in the country since 2011, Reuters reported. 

"Had he done something that would have allowed us to put him into prison, he would have been in prison," Ardern said Friday.

The government had tried to sentence him under the Terrorism Suppression Act but was denied, according to Stuff. 

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In his sentencing, Justice Sally Fitzgerald said the suspect had both an "operative interest" in ISIS and "the means and motivation to commit violence in the community."

Police investigate the scene outside an Auckland supermarket on Friday, Sep. 3, 2021 in which New Zealand authorities say they shot and killed a violent extremist after he entered a supermarket and stabbed and injured six shoppers in what the country's prime minister called a terror attack.

Police investigate the scene outside an Auckland supermarket on Friday, Sep. 3, 2021 in which New Zealand authorities say they shot and killed a violent extremist after he entered a supermarket and stabbed and injured six shoppers in what the country's prime minister called a terror attack. (RTV (DALET))

The suspect, who authorities have not identified because of a court suppression order, entered a Countdown supermarket in Auckland and grabbed a large knife from a display cabinet and started to stab people, BBC reported. 

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Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said a police surveillance team and a special tactics group had followed the man from his home to the supermarket.

Coster said that when the commotion started, two police from the special tactics group rushed over. He said the man approached police with the knife and so they shot and killed him.

Armed police patrol the area around Countdown LynnMall after a mass stabbing incident on Sept. 3, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Getty Images)

Armed police patrol the area around Countdown LynnMall after a mass stabbing incident on Sept. 3, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Getty Images)

"It's obviously a very big shock, completely unexpected," the husband of a woman in her 50s who was stabbed in the hip told Stuff. He asked not to be identified. He called the attack "a bit of a nightmare" but said she is expected to be OK. 

A police officer stands guard outside an Auckland supermarket on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (RTV/Dalet)

A police officer stands guard outside an Auckland supermarket on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (RTV/Dalet)

A 19-year-old witness told Stuff she saw the man's wife in the parking lot. 

"She was on the phone with 111 [New Zealand’s emergency number], and then she was talking to them and then when I got to her she just dropped her phone and that's when she sat down and she was just saying ‘I'm so scared, I'm so scared,’" Monica Seve said.  

She said she used the woman's sweater to apply pressure to her wound. 

"I was about to wrap her wound with her sweater and then people started screaming there's a gun there's a gun and as soon as she heard that she just ran for her life."

Seve said the woman left her phone and wallet but she was eventually able to return them to her. 

Police stand outside the site of a knife attack at a supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (Associated Press)

Police stand outside the site of a knife attack at a supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (Associated Press)

In March 2019, 51 worshippers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, were murdered by a White supremacist shooter. 

Australian Brenton Tarrant killed 44 people at the Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers before driving to the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more.

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Last year Tarrant, 30, pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism, He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Imam Gamal Fouda, a Muslim leader who survived the attack on his mosque, told Stuff Friday was the country's "darkest day" since the Christchurch massacre. 

"This person is brain-washed," Fouda said. "Terrorists who do such inhumane and vile acts do not belong to any religion. They act out of sheer hate, and they have no place in our country. Our first thoughts and prayers are for the victims and their families."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.