Jacinda Ardern describes the suspect as a Sri Lankan national who arrived in the country in 2011.
At least six people have been injured in a lone-wolf stabbing attack at a supermarket in New Zealand’s capital, before police shot him dead, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong,” she said on Friday, describing the attacker as a Sri Lankan national who arrived in New Zealand in 2011.
The man, known to the government’s “multiple agencies”, was killed within 60 seconds after the beginning the attack, she said, adding that he had been inspired by the ISIL armed group.
“It was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith,” Ardern said. “He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”
Ardern said she was limited in what she could say publicly about the man, who had been under surveillance since 2016, because he was the subject of court suppression orders.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said authorities were confident the man was acting alone and there was no further danger to the community.
A video posted on social media showed shoppers in the New Lynn supermarket shortly after the attacker struck.
“There’s someone here with a knife … he’s got a knife,” a woman is heard saying. “Somebody got stabbed.”
A guard asked people to leave the shopping mall shortly before about six shots rang out.
Two in critical condition
Of the wounded people, three were in critical condition, one in serious condition and another in moderate condition, the St John ambulance service said in a statement to the Reuters news agency.
Witnesses told reporters outside the mall that they had seen several people lying on the floor with stab wounds. Others said they heard gunshots as they ran out of the supermarket.
Videos posted online earlier showed panicked shoppers running out of the mall and looking for cover.
New Zealand has been on alert for attacks since a white supremacist gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019.
In May, four people were stabbed in a supermarket in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island.