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NZ to fast track counter-terrorism bill after supermarket attack

Wellington : New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday said Parliament will fast track the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill in the wake of the supermarket attack a day earlier which injured seven people, while the perpetrator was shot dead by the police.

Addressing the media on Saturday, Ardern said Parliament will pass the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill by the end of the month, reports Xinhua news agency.

The opposition National Party has supported the use of urgency to pass the bill.

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill was introduced earlier this year as part of the response to the Christchurch mosque attacks consisting of a new definition for what constitutes a “terrorist act”.

Seven people were injured including three people in critical condition during the Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorist attack at Countdown supermarket in western Auckland suburb New Lynn on Friday afternoon.

The 32-year-old Sri Lankan offender, who obtained a knife and stabbed people in the supermarket, had arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and was closely monitored by the police from 2016 for his IS-inspired ideology.

Legislation had prevented the person from being imprisoned but he was under heavy police surveillance when the attack was carried out.

The name of the offender cannot legally be released yet.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster believed the person acted alone and said cases like Friday’s terrorist attack were very unusual.

The country’s national terrorism threat level remained at medium.

New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland is currently at Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, where only essential activities such as buying grocery food at the supermarket were allowed.

Friday’s attack came two years after New Zealand saw its worst terror attack when a white supremacist gunman murdered 51 Muslim worshippers across two mosques in Christchurch in 2019.

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