Police cordon near the site of a shooting, in Auckland, New Zealand, July 20, 2023. SAEED KHAN / AFP
A shooting in the center of Auckland, the most populous city in New Zealand, killed three people, including the shooter, Thursday, July 20, a few hours before the opening of the Women’s World Cup, which will take place as planned, announced the New Zealand authorities.
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said there was no threat to national security and announced that the World Cup, jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia, would start on Thursday as scheduled.
“New Zealand’s national security threat level is not changed”said Mr. Hipkins, assuring “that the police have neutralized the threat and are not looking for anyone else in connection with it” shooting. “The government has discussed with the organizers of FIFA and the tournament will take place”he added.
The shooting, which occurred Thursday morning at a construction site, also injured six people, including police officers. “The author moved into the building” by pulling “with his gun”Acting Police Commissioner Sunny Patel said.
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Author found dead in elevator
“On reaching the upper levels of the building, the man locked himself in the elevator shaft and our staff attempted to engage him in dialogue”he added. “Further shots were fired by the man and he was found deceased a short time later”, according to Mr. Patel. Two deaths have been confirmed at this stage, in addition to that of the attacker.
The police responded in droves « important » to the shooting and cordoned off the area, added the police, who also deployed a helicopter. Local media showed footage of an injured policeman being helped into an ambulance.
“What happened is obviously alarming and we reassure the public that the situation has been brought under control and that this is an isolated incident”, said the officer. He felt that there was “no risk to national security”. The police asked the public to stay away during the investigation.
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Shocked but safe
National team staff and players currently staying in Auckland for the Women’s World Cup have said they are shocked but safe after the shootout occurred hours before New Zealand’s opening match against Norway at Eden Park, the city’s main stadium.
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“New Zealand football is shocked by the incident in Auckland this morning”said the Football Association of New Zealand, confirming that all the team and staff are ” safe and sound “.
The Norwegian team’s hotel was near where the shooting took place, but its members were not injured and “everything is calm in the team”, she said. Captain Maren Mjelde said they were awakened by a helicopter and “a large number of emergency vehicles”.
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“At first we didn’t know what was going on, but eventually local TV and media kept us informed”she explained in a press release. “Everyone seems calm and we are preparing normally for tonight’s game. Then we may have to adapt if there are instructions from the authorities.”she added.
Defending champions USA, who are also based in Auckland for the tournament, have also confirmed that “all its players and staff are present and safe”. The Americans are chasing an unprecedented third consecutive world title and will face underdogs Vietnam to open their competition in Auckland on Saturday.
Mass shootings are rare in New Zealand and sweeping gun laws were introduced after the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre in which 51 Muslim worshipers were killed and 40 others injured.
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