New Zealand’s prime minister said a shooting in central Auckland hours before the opening of the Women’s Football World Cup on Thursday was not linked to a national security threat and the tournament would go ahead as planned.
Six people, including police officers, were injured and the gunman was killed in a shooting at a construction site. This coincided with the opening day of the tournament co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins expressed shock and “deep sadness” over a rare mass shooting in New Zealand, but said the tournament would go ahead as planned.
“The authorities’ assessment is that there is no national security risk. There is no change to New Zealand’s national security threat level.”
“Aucklandians and people watching around the world can be assured that police have neutralized the threat and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident,” he added.
“The government has spoken to the FIFA organizers and the tournament will go ahead,” he added. “The safety of New Zealanders, and the safety of our visitors, is our number one priority.”
Several national soccer teams are based in New Zealand’s largest city, including the US team, which said in a statement that all its players and staff were safe.
Acting Superintendent of Police Sunny Patel said earlier, “The criminal has moved on from the construction site and has been waving his guns.”
“Upon reaching the upper level of the building, the man had confined himself within the lift shaft and our staff attempted to engage him,” he added.
“More shots were fired from the male side and he was found dead a short time later.”
Police said that apart from the attacker, the death of two people has been confirmed so far.
Police said officers responded in “significant” numbers to the early morning shootings and cordoned off the area, as well as deploying a helicopter.
Local media showed pictures of an injured officer being carried into an ambulance.
“What has come to light is very worrying and we are assuring the public that this incident has been brought under control and is an isolated incident,” Patel said.
“We can also advise that this does not pose a threat to national security.”
Police asked people to stay away during the emergency check.
Mass shootings are rare in New Zealand and comprehensive gun laws were introduced after the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre, which killed 51 Muslim worshipers and injured another 40.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV Staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)