The New Zealand retail chain Countdown announced that it had removed knives and scissors from the shelves of its supermarkets after an extremist attack on customers on Friday.
Photo: SITA / AP, Brett Phibbs
An armed policeman in front of a supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand, where an armed attack by an Islamist extremist knife took place. Police shot the attacker.
According to the authorities, an Islamist extremist stabbed six people in one of the company’s stores. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that a total of seven people had been injured in the attack and that the condition of three of them was critical. The police shot the attacker immediately after the crime.
On Saturday, the prime minister pledged to tighten anti-terrorism laws as soon as possible.
“I promise that as soon as the parliament re-sits, we will complete the work – that is, work to pass the law as soon as possible, no later than the end of the month,” Ardern said, referring to the anti-terrorism standard, which criminalises crime preparation and planning. At the same time, however, Ardern added that it cannot be assumed that a stricter law would prevent an attack in this case.
“It was a highly motivated individual who used a visit to the supermarket as a pretext for the attack. It is a very significant interplay of circumstances, “said the Prime Minister.
“Last night, we made the decision to remove all knives and scissors from our shelves and consider reselling them,” said Kiri Hannifin, general manager of security at Countdown.
“We want all our staff to feel safe when they come to work, especially after yesterday’s (Friday) events,” Hannifin said in a statement to the media. According to local media, other retail chains are also withdrawing knives from regular sales.
Police shot the assailant, a 32-year-old Sri Lankan citizen, was shot dead. According to Ardern, he was inspired by the so-called Islamic State and was under constant police surveillance. Police also monitored the man as he walked to a supermarket in Auckland’s New Lynn suburb. At first, the police thought he was just going shopping, but he reached for the knife and started stabbing people. Police said he was shot within a minute.
Prime Minister Ardern said he had been under surveillance since 2016 to support a violent ideology inspired by the Islamic State. He arrived in New Zealand in 2011 with a student visa and without suspicion of having extremist views.
Ardern said she could not explain why the attacker was not deported by the authorities when he expressed sympathy for extremism, or to publish his name, due to a court order. However, even if that were possible, she would not have given his name in such a case.
“No terrorist, whether alive or dead, deserves to have his name shared,” the prime minister added.