New Zealand shootings death toll, least 50 people were killed.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the at least 50 people were killed and another 34 remain hospitalised, 12 of whom are in critical condition, in a terrorist attack on two mosques carried out by a self-confessed white supremacist.
New Zealanders flocked to memorial sites on Sunday to lay flowers and mourn the victims of the terrorist attack on two mosque in Christchurch, as testimony emerged of epic heroism and harrowing suffering in the gun attack that has claimed 50 lives.
As authorities began releasing the bodies of some victims released to their families, a list circulated by relatives showed they ranged in age from three to 77 and included at least four women.
The list also documents the international scale of the tragedy, with those killed hailing from across the Muslim world and including members of two generations of the same family.
For almost three days forensics teams have been working through multiple crime scenes – at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques as well as a house in Dunedin, the southeastern city where the Tarrant lived.
Bodies of those he gunned down had remained inside the mosque awaiting autopsies and identification by increasingly distraught family members desperate to begin Muslim burial rites.
Ardern tried to reassure them on Sunday.
“I can confirm that the bodies of those who have died are beginning to be returned to their families from this evening,” she said, adding that all were expected to be released by Wednesday.
NZ PM office received manifesto before attack
The terrorist, a self-confessed white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, documented his two-year preparations in a lengthy, meandering and conspiracy-filled far-right “manifesto”.
Ardern said on Sunday that her office had received the manifesto some nine minutes before the attack.
“It did not include a location, it did not include specific details,” she said, adding that it was sent to security services within two minutes of receipt.
Change in gun laws
The mosque attacks have shaken this usually peaceful country, which prides itself on welcoming refugees fleeing violence or persecution.
Ardern has vowed to change the country’s gun laws and to uncover how a self-avowed extremist legally purchased two semi-automatic weapons, reportedly AR-15s, two shotguns and a lever-action gun without drawing the attention of the authorities.
It has also has emerged that a former soldier raised concerns about extremism at Tarrant’s gun club in Dunedin.
Ardern said the cabinet would be briefed on Monday on the aftermath of the disaster and begin discussions “around issues like, for instance, gun policy.”
Terrorist to face justice in New Zealand
Jacinda Ardern said the the terrorist who attacked two mosques will certainly face the justice system of New Zealand and the trial will take place in the country only.
Commenting on a possible extradition to Australia, she clarified that it could take place only after completion of sentence in new Zealand.
She added that the main offender was remanded in police custody until April 5 and that further charges would be filed against the terrorists, who has beed identified as a 28-year-old Australian.
The New Zealand prime minister cited police as saying that there is no indication that two other people who arrested on the massacre day were connected to the attacks.
Ardern added that police had confirmed that another person has been taken into custody based on evidence collected during the investigation of the terror strike but there was no information that links the person to the mosque attacks.
Turkish delegation welcomed
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that a high-level Turkish delegation will visit New Zealand to pay respects to the victims of the terrorist attack and to express solidarity with the country’s Muslim community. She welcomed the visit of the Turkish delegation.
Issues with social media
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has sent condolences over the massacre in Christchurch.
“Certainly, I have had contact from Sheryl Sandberg. I haven’t spoken to her directly but she has reached out, an acknowledgment of what has occurred here in New Zealand,” Ardern said a media conference when asked if Facebook should stop live-streaming.
“This is an issue that I will look to be discussing directly with Facebook,” Ardern said.
Facebook Inc said it removed 1.5 million videos globally of the New Zealand mosque attack in the first 24 hours after the terrorist attack.
“In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload…,” Facebook said in a tweet late Saturday.
The company said it is also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content out of respect for the people affected by the mosque shooting and the concerns of local authorities.
Mourners gather at floral tribute to terror attack victims
Vigils and memorials were held on Saturday in New Zealand and many other world cities to mourn the victims of the terrorist attack in which 50 people were killed, and to show support to their families and the country’s tiny Muslim community.
An emotional Haka was performed outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, where a lone terrorist, identified as Brenton Tarrant, killed 41 people before attacking another nearby mosque in the city.
It took the terrorist seven minutes to travel to the second mosque in the suburb of Linwood, where seven people were killed. One victim died in the hospital.
As mourners stood silently at a floral tribute to the victims, one man walked onto the street and performed the traditional war dance.
The Haka is an ancient Maori war dance, performed at weddings, funerals and to challenge opponents on the sports field, most notably by New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team.
The main suspect in New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting intended to continue the rampage before he was caught by police, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday.
The statement came as the New Zealand prime minister arrived in Christchurch where she is due to visit victims in local hospitals
“The offender was mobile, there were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in, and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,” Ardern told reporters in Christchurch.
She added that 28-year-old suspect of Friday’s carnage, Brenton Harrison Tarrant who has already been charged with murder, will likely face further charges.
“I’m not privileged to a full breakdown at this point but it is clear that young children have been caught up in this horrific attack,” she said regarding victims of the attack.
Ardern also vowed to toughen the country’s gun laws after revealing the alleged shooter behind Christchurch’s mosque attacks had legally bought the five weapons, including two semi-automatic rifles, used in the massacre.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s cricket team left New Zealand on Saturday, less than 24 hours after narrowly avoiding being involved in the worst mass shooting in the country.
New Zealand will now have to accept that sporting events were likely to have been changed for ever.
Massacre won’t shake Muslims’ love for New Zealand
The imam, who was leading prayers at one of the Christchurch mosques that was attacked, said that the Muslim community’s love for New Zealand would not be shaken by the massacre.
“We still love this country,” said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, imam of Linwood Mosque, vowing that such incidents would “never ever touch our confidence.”
He said the majority of New Zealanders “are very keen to support all of us, to give us full solidarity”, describing how strangers exchanged hugs with him on Saturday.
“They start to… give me big hug, and give me more solidarity. This is something very important.”
New Zealand terror attack suspect who filmed himself rampaging through two mosques in Christchurch killing 50 worshippers appeared in court on a murder charge Saturday.
Australian-born terrorist appeared in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, sitting impassively as the judge read a single murder charge against him. A raft of further charges are expected.
Self-professed fascist occasionally turned to look and smirked at media present in court during the brief hearing that was held behind closed doors for security reasons.
He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance scheduled for April 5.
At least 50 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
The terrorist was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned terrorist attack in Christchurch city. Police also defused explosive devices in a car.
Forty-two people are still being treated in hospital for injuries, including a four-year-old child, New Zealand health authorities said.