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World News

Auckland attack raises questions about ability of authorities to keep terrorists off the street


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That a known Islamist extremist was free to launch a knife attack in New Zealand underlines the limitations of the law even in cases where someone is of such concern they are under constant surveillance.

At least the fact the suspect was monitored 24/7 meant his ability to cause carnage was stopped within a minute as armed police shot him dead.

But the stabbing of six people at a supermarket in Auckland is bound to raise uncomfortable questions for authorities over their ability to keep people known to pose a threat off the street.

A police officer stands outside an Auckland supermarket - New Zealand authorities said Friday they shot and killed a violent extremist after he entered a supermarket and stabbed and injured several shoppers. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the incident as a terror attack. PIC:New Zealand Herald/AP
Image: The man was stopped within 60 seconds of starting the attack

The security services had been so worried about the knife-man, originally from Sri Lanka, that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had previously been briefed about him.

Yet, they appeared unable to find a legal reason for him to be detained in the days leading up to the attack.

“Had he done something that would have allowed us to put him into prison, he would have been in prison,” Ms Ardern said.

The man, who moved to New Zealand 10 years ago from Sri Lanka, came to the attention of the authorities in 2016.

More on Jacinda Ardern

He was known to be a supporter of the terrorist group Islamic State and is believed to have acted alone.

Police stand outside the site of a knife attack at a supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand
Image: Six people were wounded. Pic: AP

Dealing with the threat posed by lone actors is particularly difficult for the police and security services because they are not part of a wider network that can be tracked and monitored.

But in the case of this attacker, he was already under the most robust kind of monitoring available short of detention and yet was still able to access a knife and inflict harm.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News

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