Terrorism in New Zealand?

Published by APAML |

Police have reported multiple stabbings in a local supermarket at Whanganui. Whanganui is a city in the west coast of the North Island.

Details to date are sketchy. What is known is that at 4.15 pm on Tuesday 22nd January, at least six people were stabbed, with one fatality. Five others have been transferred to hospital with moderate to serious injuries.

The initial reports have not disclosed whether the matter was domestic, gang related or a terrorist act.

A person has been taken into police custody. Police advise no other persons are sought.

A witness, who did not wish to be named, said he was packing groceries into his car when he heard a woman crying for help. 

“She came across to the carpark from Wicksteed St. She had severe facial and arm lacerations, and told us she and others were attacked by a man with a knife on the corner of Wicksteed and Liverpool streets.” He said emergency services were called while he and others did their best to help and comfort her.

At the same time, another man approached from Liverpool St with a stab wound to his neck, the witness said. The bleeding man told those gathered there was another woman who was badly injured.

New World staff retrieved a first aid kit and began helping the victims, shortly before police and ambulance staff arrived.

A nearby resident, who asked not to be named, said there was “blood on the ground” and five police cars at the scene.

Officers had cordoned off the bloodied area where there were a number of overturned trolleys visible.

Is terrorism new to New Zealand?

Though the background of today’s incident has not yet been confirmed, New Zealand is not isolated to terrorist acts. Between 1982 and 1985 the country suffered three separate incidents of terrorism.

Police Computer Centre Bombing

On 18 November 1982, a suicide bomb attack was made against a facility housing the main computer system of the New Zealand Police, Courts, Ministry of Transport and other law enforcement agencies, in Whanganui. The attacker, a “punk rock” anarchist  named Neil Roberts, was the only person killed, and the computer system was undamaged.

Labour Trade Union Bombing

On 27 March 1984, a suitcase bomb was left in the foyer of the Trades Hall in Wellington. The Trades Hall was the headquarters of a number of trade unions and it is most commonly assumed that they were the target of the bombing. Ernie Abbott, the building’s caretaker, was killed when he attempted to move the suitcase, which is believed to have contained three sticks of gelignite triggered by a mercury switch.  To this day, the perpetrator has never been identified. Those elements of the New Zealand Police responsible for preventing and investigating such crimes were headquartered in the building across the street.

Rainbow Warrior

Perhaps the best known attack in New Zealand was the sinking of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior by the French foreign intelligence service, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE), in 1985. Greenpeace had planned to use the Rainbow Warrior as part of protest efforts over French nuclear testing at Moruroa, and DGSE divers sank the vessel by detonating mines against its hull while it was berthed in Auckland. The crew left the ship, but one person, Fernando Pereira, was drowned when he returned to a cabin to retrieve his cameras, just before the vessel sank.

France initially denied responsibility for the attack, but later admitted its role. Two of the French agents involved in the attack were arrested, convicted, and jailed, while several others escaped. French defence minister Charles Hernu eventually resigned over the affair. New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange later referred to the sinking as “a sordid act of international state-backed terrorism.

Between 2010 and 2011 there were two further attacks of terrorism –

Plane Hijacking

In 2010, a female Somali refugee was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for hijacking a plane two years earlier. On 8 February 2008, Asha Ali Abdille boarded a plane at Blenheim that was bound for Christchurch. She approached the pilots about 10 minutes after departure and told them she had two bombs. She threatened them with a knife and told them and the passengers that she wanted the plane to divert to Australia, or she would crash it. On landing at Christchurch, the pilot managed to overpower Abdille, sustaining serious knife wounds in the process.

Cuba Mall Fire Bomb

On the last day of government elections in November 2011, a man exploded his car in Cuba Mall, Wellington, and made bombs threats against the Central Bank and the New Zealand stock exchange.

The offender had been protesting about banking methods, in particular fractional banking.

Though young children were playing in the mall playground, no one was seriously injured in the incident.

Police Response to most recent incident

The police were contacted to confirm whether the incident was domestic, gang related or an act of terrorism. They advised insufficient information was currently at hand and the matter was continuing in investigations.