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20 Jul, 2023 00:36

Gunman kills two before World Cup opening in New Zealand

The attack took place near hotels hosting international teams for the FIFA Women’s World Cup
Gunman kills two before World Cup opening in New Zealand

At least two people were killed and several more injured during a mass shooting in New Zealand on Thursday, according to local police, with the gunman engaging in a standoff with law enforcement before he was neutralized.

The attacker opened fire at a building site in Auckland early on Thursday morning, the city’s Acting Police Superintendent Sunny Patel said. In addition to the two killed, six people were wounded in the shooting, which unfolded near hotels where Team Norway and other soccer teams are staying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Not long after the attack began, the shooter holed himself up in an elevator shaft and continued to fire at police, Patel said, adding that the gunman was found dead “a short time later.” It is unclear if he was killed by police or took his own life, however.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins voiced “deep sorrow” over the deaths, but said there was “no wider national security threat” and that the shooting “appears to be the action of one individual.” He added that the gunman was armed with a pump-action shotgun, and that police responded just one minute after the first shots were reported.

“These kinds of situations move fast and the actions of those who risk their lives to save others are nothing short of heroic,” the premier said.

Local law enforcement said officers responded to the scene in “significant” numbers, with footage shared online by Reuters showing heavily armed policemen moving through Auckland. One photo making the rounds online also appeared to show an injured officer.

Set to begin later on Thursday, the FIFA cup opener will still go ahead as planned. The football association said it was in touch with authorities in New Zealand, and that it had been informed the shooting “was an isolated incident that was not related to football operations.”