Viewers said the man police believe was acting alone pulled out a large knife during a countdown in the New Lynn area of Auckland – five people were injured
Witnesses have described their horror when they saw a “violent extremist” stab six people in a New Zealand supermarket.
The attacker, who was shot dead by the police on Friday, was inspired by the militant group “Islamic State”, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Viewers said the man police believe was acting alone pulled out a large knife during a countdown in the New Lynn area of Auckland.
He then started stabbing people, three of whom were in critical condition with neck and chest wounds, one in serious condition and one in moderate condition, the St. John Ambulance Service said.
An eyewitness said he heard the assailant, who was not identified, shout “Allah hu Akbar” before they walked around the store.
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NZHerald / Alex Burton)
Buyers – many of whom are believed to be between 50 and 60 years old – then began screaming and fleeing for life as the terrible rampage unfolded.
The man told the herald : “He had a knife, a pretty big knife – as I would say, the size of his arm. It was very scary. It was like a mini sword, not a full sword.
“At first I thought it was a prank. Somebody wanted to scare people and create a problem. It literally happened in front of my eyes.
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“I was just buying things and going to the milk duct, and then all of a sudden I heard a person shouting ‘Allah hu Akbar’ and just running.
“While people were coming out, I could see a lady in a white t-shirt who was bleeding completely and panicking. People were trying to help her.”
The attacker has been a “person of interest” for about five years, Ardern said, adding that he was killed in the city of Auckland within 60 seconds of the start of his attack.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster added, “We did absolutely everything to monitor him and the fact that we could intervene so quickly, in about 60 seconds, shows how closely we were watching him.”
New Zealand has been on high alert for attacks since an armed white racist killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch city on March 15, 2019.
Ardern, who was asked if Friday’s attack could have been a revenge for the 2019 mosque shootings, said it was not clear. The man alone was responsible for the violence, not belief, she said.
“It was hateful, it was wrong. It was done by an individual, not a belief,” said Ardern.
“He alone is responsible for these acts.”
RNZ / Veronika Schmidt)
Witnesses told reporters outside the mall that they saw several people with stab wounds lying on the floor. Others said they heard gunshots running out of the supermarket.
And a brave bystander was seen helping a wounded woman who had been stabbed in the right hip as the terror unfolded and wrapped her sweater around her as the blood flowed.
A video posted on social media showed shoppers in the supermarket seconds after the attacker struck.
“There’s someone here with a knife … he has a knife,” you hear a woman say. “Someone was stabbed.”
The attacker, a Sri Lankan national who has lived in New Zealand for 10 years, had not committed any crimes that led to his arrest and detention as of Friday, Ardern added.