SHAFAQNA- Forty nine have been killed in a terror attack on two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday.
Beginning at about 1.40 p.m. local time, armed gunmen attacked two mosques in Christchurch, killing dozens of people.
Police quickly locked down the city in response, including schools and government buildings. Within hours, police said four people were taken into custody — three men and one woman.
A video and manifesto that filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack, appeared to be by a gunman involved in the shooting were posted online on the day of the attack.
Shots were fired at Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue near Hagley Park in the center of the city, and at Linwood Mosque, about three miles away, the police said.
According to Ardern, bombs were found attached to the attackers’ cars. They have since been disarmed by New Zealand’s armed forces.
49 people have been killed – 41 were killed at Masjid Al Noor Mosque, seven at Linwood Masjid Mosque and one died at hospital, the sun reported.
The injuries range from critical to minor, according to a statement from David Meates, Chief Executive of Canterbury District Health Board. Around 200 family members are on site waiting for news of loved ones.
The police said that four people, including three men and one woman, had been taken into custody.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia said that one of them was Australian, nytimes reported.
New Zealand Police have issued an update on the shooting, confirming that a 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and will appear in the Christchurch District Court on Saturday morning. Two others remain in custody.
“There are community events planned across the country this weekend and there will be a visible Police presence at these events for safety and reassurance,” the force also said.
New Zealand commissioner Mike Bush said the attack was “very well-planned,” adding mosques across the country would remain under police protection for the moment.
Asked why the attackers weren’t on New Zealand watch lists, Bush said the four people in custody weren’t on any Australian security watch lists either.
In a brief press conference, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “there is no place in New Zealand” for this kind of violence, noting that the country is home to the people who were targeted at the mosques. “This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” she said.
“Many of those affected may be migrants, maybe refugees … They are us. … The perpetrator is not. … There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence,” Ardern continued, vox reported.
Following the attack, the nation’s gun laws — which were first passed in 1983 — came under scrutiny. The ensuing debate led to a 1993 amendment on the regulation of military-style semi-automatic firearms.
The country’s gun laws are still considered to be relatively relaxed compared to non-US nations — gun owners do need a license but they aren’t required to register their guns.
While authorities do not know exactly how many legally or illegally owned firearms are currently in circulation in New Zealand, estimates put the number at about 1.2 million, according to New Zealand Police.
A Muslim leader in New Zealand said the attack was especially shocking as it took place during midday Friday prayers. The police called on mosques nationally to “shut their doors” and urged people to stay away from the mosques until further notice.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has tweeted his condolences to the victims of the attack, and confirmed that there will be “highly visible” and armed police around mosques in the UK capital on Friday.
NZ mosque gunman was Australian rightwing ‘terrorist’
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he has asked for flags to be flown at half-mast out of respect for those killed in the attack.
The gunman who killed numerous worshippers in a New Zealand mosque on Friday was a right-wing “terrorist” with Australian citizenship, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“We stand here and condemn, absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” Morrison told a press conference.
He confirmed media reports that the gunman who mowed down worshippers in the main mosque in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch was an Australian-born citizen. He said Australian security authorities were investigating any links between the country and the attack, but declined to provide further details about the Australian gunman, thejakartapost told.
NZ mosque gunman Praises Donald Trump As ‘Symbol Of Renewed White Identity’
The shooting was carried out by at least one gunman who posted on online “manifesto” stating white supremacist viewpoints and naming prominent Donald Trump supporter and right-wing American media personality Candace Owens as the person who most inspired him to commit acts of violence.
He also praised Trump himself “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” But he disavows Trump as “a policy maker and leader.”
The shooter live-streamed the horrifying attack using a body camera as he calmly walked through the mosque firing over 100 rounds, shooting worshippers there in seemingly indiscriminate fashion, according to an account by The New Zealand Herald newspaper.
But the paper also reported that the alleged shooter published a lengthy manifesto online, in which he “outlined who he was and why he carried out the massacre at the Christchurch mosque.” The complete, 73-page manifesto was posted on the document-sharing site ScribD.
In the document, the alleged shooter, who identifies himself as a native Australian named Brenton Tarrant, expresses the common white supremacist belief that white people are being subject to “white genocide” and “replaced” by “non-Europeans” due to “mass immigration and the higher fertility rates of the immigrants.”
As seen in the excerpt above, he sites Owens, the 29-year-old communications director of the conservative group Turning Point USA, as “the person that has influenced me above all”, inquisitor reported.
World leaders condemn ‘sickening’ terrorism in New Zealand
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned Friday the killing of innocent people while praying in mosques in New Zealand, and expressed his condolences to victims” families.
He expressed through in Twitter deep sadness over the fact that left at least 49 dead, plenglish told.
“Today and every day, we must stand united against anti-Muslim hatred and all forms of intolerance and terror”, he said.
The British prime minister Theresa May called the assault, which killed at least 49 people and left dozens more injured, a “horrifying terrorist attack”.
“To target Muslims as they were attending their place of worship is despicable,” May said. “There can be no place in our societies for the vile ideology that drives and incites hatred and fear. Together we will defeat those who seek to destroy our values, our way of life and seek to divide us.”
Muslim-majority nations Turkey, Malaysia, Iran and Pakistan have condemned the twin attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday.
Two of the most high-profile leaders in the Muslim world offered their sympathies but pointed out that the attacks had occurred in a climate of increasing Islamophobia.
“I strongly condemn the terror attack against Al Noor mosque in New Zealand and Muslim worshippers,” said Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “May Allah have mercy on the victims and grant a speedy recovery to the wounded.
He added “On behalf of my country, I offer my condolences to the Islamic world and the people of New Zealand, who have been targeted by this deplorable act – the latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”
Imran Khan, who was elected prime minister of Pakistan last summer, said the attacks confirmed what he had always maintained “that terrorism does not have a religion”.
However, Khan said Muslims worldwide had found themselves targeted and “demonised” since the 9/11 attacks on the US. “I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam and 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” he tweeted. “This has been done deliberately to also demonize legitimate Muslim political struggles.”
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also tweeted that “Iranians are deeply shocked and saddened by Christchurch terror today. But we’re not surprised. Banned from travel to the US, and not allowed to abide by our faith if attending French schools, we Iranians know too well what bigotry and hatred of Islam augur”.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, offered his solidarity. “All our thoughts are with the victims of the heinous crimes against the mosques of Christchurch, New Zealand, and with their loved ones,” he said. “France stands against all forms of extremism and acts with its partners against terrorism in the world”, The Guardian reported.
Muslims around the world react to shootings
Muslim community groups worldwide are reacting to the tragedy in Christchurch, sending condolences to those affected and warning of the risk of further attacks at places of worship.
“This is indeed a very sad day for all,” said I.H. Kauser, National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia, in a statement. “It is crucial that at this time we all remain united against hatred, division and bigotry.”
American group Muslim Advocates said “We are devastated. Today is a tragedy not just for Muslims, but for all people of faith and goodwill.” The group urged Muslims in the United States to stay “vigilant and strong” as they attend mosques on Friday.
“This heinous attack is not an anomaly or a surprise … the American Muslim community has faced deadly attacks in recent years, but rarely have we witnessed such brutal carnage as today’s tragedy in New Zealand,” its statement added.
“This is the most deadly Islamophobic terrorist attack we have experienced in recent times,” said Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. “As the rest of us prepare to undertake our own Friday prayers today, we do so with the anxiety as to whether our mosques and communities are safe in the face of unabated Islamophobia and hostility against Muslims.”
Khan called on fellow Muslims to “resist the temptation to roll up the banners in fear,” and urged governments to step up efforts to ensure that mosques are protected, CNN reported.
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