UPDATE SEPT. 4 at 8 A.M.: New Zealand officials confirmed that Ahamed Samsudeen is the man they killed after he stabbed seven people in a knife attack at a supermarket on Friday. Initial reports said six people were wounded but that number has been increased to seven.
A man from Sri Lanka believed to have been inspired by the Islamic State stabbed six people at a grocery store in New Zealand before being killed by law enforcement on Friday.
According to a statement from Commissioner of Police Andrew Coster, the unnamed man entered the Countdown Supermarket at LynnMall on 2:30 p.m. local time, took a knife from a shelf and began attacking people.
The Covert Police Specialist Tactics Group, which had tracked the man over concerns about extreme views, responded to the attack and stopped him around 60 seconds after he began the rampage. Due to court orders, the attacker's name has not yet been publicly disclosed.
Six people were stabbed by the man, with three receiving severe wounds. Victims were taken to Auckland City Hospital and Waitakere Hospital, according to the police report.
“The attacker was under constant surveillance and was today observed leaving his Glen Eden property and travelling to the supermarket, as he had done previously without incident,” stated authorities.
“Our thoughts are with the victims of today’s attack, their families and those who were caught up in this horrific event. People have an absolute right to feel safe going about their normal activities.”
While authorities concluded that the ISIS-inspired man acted alone, they have maintained a heavy police presence in Auckland as a precaution.
“The scene is currently locked down and will be the subject of an extensive scene examination. We are also in the process of compiling witness information and collecting CCTV footage,” continued Coster.
“Police will continue to have a high presence in the area and will be conducting a number of reassurance patrols over the coming period. We want to assure the community that these were the actions of a lone individual with a violent extremist ideology.”
At a press conference, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern commended bystanders who helped the victims.
“What happened today was despicable. It was hateful. It was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith,” said Ardern. “He alone carries the responsibility for these acts.”
Ardern said that the attacker was a Sri Lankan national who arrived in New Zealand in October 2011. He became a person of national security interest in 2016.
"We have utilized every legal and surveillance power to us to try and keep people safe from this individual. Many agencies and people were involved," she said, adding that there will be multiple investigations on this attack.
Coster told reporters that law enforcement did not know the extent of the attacker's intentions and that it appeared that he was going to the supermarket for a "normal shopping expedition."
"Clearly, we have been concerned about his ideology," he said. "This individual was very surveillance conscious, and surveillance teams ... need to maintain sufficient distance for that surveillance to be effective. They were as close as they possibly could."
Ardern said that nothing indicated that the attacker would attack the supermarket.
The Auckland attack comes over two years after a gunman with extremist views entered the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch and killed around 50 Muslims.
Considered the worst mass shooting in the history of New Zealand, police apprehended the shooter before he arrived at a third location he had planned to attack.
“We strongly believe we stopped him on the way to further attacks, so lives were saved by our staff, who were courageous in their interventions,” stated then-Police Commissioner Mike Bush at the time.