NZ mosque shootings toll rises to 50, families wait to bury their dead

CHRISTCHURCH/WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The demise toll within the New Zealand mosque shootings rose to 50 on Sunday after police stated they discovered one other physique at one of many mosques, whereas authorities labored to formally determine victims and launch their our bodies to families.

Flowers and indicators are pictured at a memorial as a tribute to victims of the mosque assaults, close to a police line outdoors Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with homicide on Saturday. Tarrant was remanded with out a plea and is due again in courtroom on April 5 the place police stated he was seemingly to face additional expenses.

Friday’s assault, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labeled as terrorism, was the worst ever peacetime mass killing in New Zealand and the nation had raised its safety menace stage to the very best.

Footage of the assault on one of many mosques was broadcast reside on Facebook, and a “manifesto” denouncing immigrants as “invaders” was additionally posted on-line through hyperlinks to associated social media accounts.

The our bodies of the victims had not but been launched to families as a result of investigations have been ongoing, however police have been working as rapidly as they might to try this, Police Commissioner Mike Bush stated at a media convention in Wellington.

It is customary in Islam to bury the dead throughout the 24 hours.

“We have to be absolutely clear on cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen. But we are so aware of the cultural and religious needs, so we are doing that as quickly and sensitively as possible,” Bush stated.

Bush stated the physique of the 50th sufferer was discovered on the Al Noor mosque, the place greater than 40 individuals died after a gunman entered and shot randomly at individuals with a semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines, earlier than touring to a second mosque.

“As of last night we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes. In doing so we were able to locate a further victim,” he stated.

Thirty-six individuals have been nonetheless in Christchurch Hospital, with 11 being handled in intensive care, and one youngster moved to devoted youngsters’s hospital in Auckland.

At a roadblock outdoors the Al Noor mosque on Sunday, about 40 individuals have been standing in silence close to scores of bunches of flowers. Police with gloves and metallic detectors combed the road and footpath.


One man on the second mosque within the suburb of Linwood was hailed for distracting and confronting the shooter, stopping additional deaths.

Abdul Aziz, 48, instructed native media he heard capturing and ran outdoors the mosque, shouting on the gunman and drawing him away from the constructing, the Newshub web site reported.

Aziz, initially from Afghanistan, stated he picked up one of many gunman’s discarded weapons and threatened the person, who drove off.

Police then rammed the gunman’s car and arrested him.

“Those two police officers acted with absolute courage,” Bush stated. “They have prevented further deaths and risked their own lives to do so.”

Church companies for victims of the assault have been held across the nation, together with at Christchurch’s “Cardboard Cathedral”, a brief construction constructed after a lot of the central metropolis was destroyed in a 2011 earthquake.

The majority of victims have been migrants or refugees from nations equivalent to Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan. Muslims account for simply over 1 % of New Zealand’s inhabitants.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner stated six residents had been killed and three have been lacking.


Bush stated police didn’t imagine that three different individuals arrested on Friday have been concerned within the assault. Two males confronted expenses unrelated or “tangential” to the assault, whereas a lady had been launched, he stated.

Tarrant didn’t have a legal historical past and was not on any watchlists in New Zealand or Australia.

In a manifesto circulating on-line, Tarrant described himself as “Just a ordinary White man, 28 years old” who used the spoils of cryptocurrency buying and selling to finance intensive travels by means of Europe from 2016-2018.

Ardern stated Tarrant was a licensed gun proprietor who allegedly used 5 weapons, together with two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns, which had been modified.

“I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change,” Ardern instructed reporters on Saturday, saying a ban on semi-automatic weapons could be thought of.

Slideshow (14 Images)

New Zealand has previously tried to tighten firearm legal guidelines, however a robust gun foyer and tradition of searching has stymied such efforts.

There are an estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand, which has a inhabitants of solely 5 million, however the nation has had low ranges of gun violence.

New Zealand shootings:

Reporting by Praveen Menon and Tom Westbrook; Additional reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and John Mair; Editing by Lincoln Feast

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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