WELLINGTON: Security personnel inspect the front doors of parliament smashed by a man armed with an axe.—AP
WELLINGTON: Security personnel inspect the front doors of parliament smashed by a man armed with an axe.—AP

WELLINGTON: Officials plan to review security at New Zealand’s parliament after a man armed with an axe smashed the main glass entrance doors early on Wednesday.

Police said they were called to the Parliament complex in Wellington just before 5:30am after getting reports that a man with an axe was on the grounds. Police said that after smashing the doors, the 31-year-old man didn’t try to enter the building and was arrested within minutes without further incident.

New Zealand’s 120 lawmakers are currently on a summer break, and there were few people in the building at the time of the attack.

The man has been charged with intentional damage and possession of an offensive weapon. If found guilty, he could face up to seven years in prison. A judge temporarily suppressed the man’s name, a common practice in New Zealand’s justice system.

It was not immediately clear whether the recent attacks at the US Capitol in Washington played any role in inspiring the New Zealand attack.

Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, the chief executive of Parliamentary Service, said it was important to maintain a balance between security and accessibility.

I am proud that the New Zealand Parliament is one of the most open, accessible parliaments in the world and I very much hope that this continues, he said in a statement. Our parliament belongs to the people of New Zealand, and it is incredibly important to our democracy that people are able to visit, and interact with their parliament and elected representatives with ease.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021

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