| 20 May 2024, Monday |

New Zealand supermarkets take knives off shelves after ‘extremist’ stabbing

Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand announced on Saturday that knives and scissors have been taken from its shelves, a day after a man suspected of being an Islamist extremist stabbed six people at one of the company’s stores.

“We decided to temporarily remove all knives and scissors from our shelves last night while we examine whether we should continue to sell them,” said Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager for safety.

“We want everyone on our team to feel secure when they come to work, especially after yesterday’s events,” she said in a statement to the media.

According to local media, several grocery chains have also taken sharp blades from their shelves.

The assailant, a Sri Lankan national who cannot be identified owing to court requirements, was shot and killed by police. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the guy had been under regular police observation and was inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.

When the guy entered the Countdown shop in Auckland’s New Lynn mall, police were following him. They said he went in to do some shopping, but instead he grabbed a knife from a display and began stabbing people.

Police said they shot him within a minute of the start of the attack. Three of the six victims are in critical condition.

Ardern said the attacker had been under surveillance since 2016 because of his support for a violent ideology inspired by the Islamic State. By law the man could not be kept in prison, so he was being constantly monitored instead.

The government has sought an urgent lifting of the suppression orders so more details on the person could be made public. Ardern is expected to address the media at 0200 GMT.

  • Reuters