‘Our gun laws WILL change’: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vows tough action on weapons

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to toughen up the country’s gun laws in the wake of a terrorist attack on two mosques, during which a gunman shot 49 Muslim worshippers dead using five firearms he had acquired legally.  

The suspected gunman, 28-year-old Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant, will appear in Christchurch District Court charged with murder on Saturday. 

Ms Ardern said in a press conference that the white supremacist attacker had two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever action firearm. He received his license in November 2017. 

‘While work has been done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun licence and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change,’ Ms Ardern told media.

Two other people remain in policy custody, and Ms Ardern said today that ‘inquiries are ongoing to establish whether [they] were directly involved with this incident.’  

New Zealand’s gun laws have remained largely unchanged since 1992, when the 1983 law was toughened in response to another massacre in which 13 people died. 

‘There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017. Now is the time for change,’ Ms Ardern said at the press conference.

‘There are obviously questions being asked of how this person was able to enter the country and undertake this act of terror.’

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference today that the country will strengthen its gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch massacre in which 49 people were killed at a mosque in Christchurch

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference today that the country will strengthen its gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch massacre in which 49 people were killed at a mosque in Christchurch

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference today that the country will strengthen its gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch massacre in which 49 people were killed at a mosque in Christchurch 

A fourth person was also arrested, but was found to be a member of the public who was carrying a firearm with the intention of assisting police. They have since been released.

None of those apprehended had a criminal history either in New Zealand or in Australia, nor were they on any watchlists in either country, Ms Ardern said.  

‘Now is the time for change,’ she added, promising that authorities would be revisiting the laws on ‘fire arms, border controls, enhanced information sharing with Australia and any practical reinforcement of our watchlist processes’.     

Tarrant had spent up to seven years travelling the world and became obsessed with far-right and Neo-Nazi ideology. 

He live-streamed the shootings in a horrifying 17-minute video posted on Facebook. 

Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed on Twitter that the death toll stands at 49, with 42 injured. Two of those injured are in a critical condition, including a four-year-old who is being transported from Christchurch to the country’s specialist children’s hospital Starship in Auckland. 

The white supremacist perpetrator had two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever action firearm, Ms Ardern said

The white supremacist perpetrator had two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever action firearm, Ms Ardern said

The white supremacist perpetrator had two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever action firearm, Ms Ardern said

Brenton Tarrant is pictured as a child being held by his keen athlete father who died of cancer in 2010 at the age of 49. He grew up in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia's New South Wales and worked as a personal trainer before leaving to travel the world

Brenton Tarrant is pictured as a child being held by his keen athlete father who died of cancer in 2010 at the age of 49. He grew up in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia's New South Wales and worked as a personal trainer before leaving to travel the world

Brenton Tarrant is pictured as a child being held by his keen athlete father who died of cancer in 2010 at the age of 49. He grew up in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia’s New South Wales and worked as a personal trainer before leaving to travel the world

Tarrant is pictured in the sickening video of his attack, left, and in a social media picture, right

Tarrant is pictured in the sickening video of his attack, left, and in a social media picture, right

In his manifesto, Tarrant (pictured) described himself as an 'ordinary, white man', who was born into a working class, low income family of Scottish, Irish and English decent

In his manifesto, Tarrant (pictured) described himself as an 'ordinary, white man', who was born into a working class, low income family of Scottish, Irish and English decent

In his manifesto, Tarrant (pictured) described himself as an ‘ordinary, white man’, who was born into a working class, low income family of Scottish, Irish and English decent. He is pictured in the sickening video of his attack, left, and right in an image that a Pakistani hotel manager posted on Facebook, claiming it showed Tarrant visiting the Middle Eastern nation

Two others remain in custody, and police are still trying to ‘build a picture of any of the individuals involved and all of their activities prior to this horrific event’. 

Mr Bush added: ‘There is no guarantee the risk is limited to Canterbury and we need all New Zealanders to be extra vigilant.

‘Police is aware there are distressing materials related to this event circulating widely online. We would urge anyone who has been affected by seeing these materials to seek appropriate support.’

He said there will be a heightened police presence at community events on Saturday ‘for safety and reassurance’.

Details of the terrorist’s background are emerging, including his upbringing in the rural New South Wales town of Grafton which he left shortly after his father Rodney died of cancer when Tarrant was in his early 20s. 

He seems to have spent up to seven years travelling the world from 2011 onwards, and one woman who knew him before he left Grafton speculated to Daily Mail Australia that ‘something happened to him’ during this time. She also recognised him as being the man in the massacre video.

Tarrant claimed in a so-called ‘manifesto’ to have made money trading Bitcoin, enabling him to travel the world. He also spoke of visiting a wide range of countries including Pakistan, and a photograph showed him on a tourist trip to North Korea. 

A picture posted on social media by a Pakistani hotel manager in 2018 appears to show him in the country during his time abroad.

But at some point he seems to have become obsessed with terrorist attacks that happened in Europe between 2016 and 2017. His ranting manifesto is filled with Neo-Nazi ideology and hatred for Muslim people. 

Tarrant grew up in a picture-perfect house (shown above) in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia's New South Wales

Tarrant grew up in a picture-perfect house (shown above) in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia's New South Wales

Tarrant grew up in a picture-perfect house (shown above) in Grafton in the Northern River region of Australia’s New South Wales

One woman who knew Tarrant before he left Grafton said he worked as a personal trainer who was obsessed with fitness but seemed like a well-adjusted young man.   

In a twisted manifesto that he posted online before the massacre, Tarrant described himself as an ‘ordinary, white man’, who was born into a working class, low income family of Scottish, Irish and English decent.

He said in the document he had ‘no interest’ in attending university after leaving school. His father died of cancer when he was in his early 20s, and he left Australia to travel the world shortly afterwards.  

Prosecutors in Bulgaria have launched a probe into Tarrant’s recent visit to the country. He visited Bulgaria from November 9-15 last year claiming he wanted ‘to visit historical sites and study the history of the Balkan country’, according to Bulgaria’s public prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov. 

Tsatsarov said he hoped the inquiry would establish if this was ‘correct or if he had other objectives’.

Tarrant’s father, Rodney, who was a competitive athlete, died of cancer in 2010 aged just 49 and his mother and sister are rumoured to still live in the area.

While it remains unclear whether any of his relatives – including his mother – still live in the area, the family is very well known in the region. 

The gunman wrote that he had ‘little interest in education’ growing up, and did not attend university as he had no great interest in anything offered at the schools.  

He claimed he made some money investing in Bitconnect – a type of digital currency – before he then used the money to travel overseas. 

Tarrant, who would later go on to become a personal trainer, inherited a love of physical fitness from his father, who reportedly died of an asbestos-related illness. 

A woman who claims to have previously known Tarrant through the gym, confirmed it was him in the live stream.

She told Daily Mail Australia that he followed a strict dietary and exercise regime and worked at the gym after he finished school. 

Witnesses reported hearing dozens of shots at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island. Pictured is a still from a live-stream of the shooting

Witnesses reported hearing dozens of shots at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island. Pictured is a still from a live-stream of the shooting

Witnesses reported hearing dozens of shots at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country’s South Island. Pictured is a still from a live-stream of the shooting

The shooter's rampage began when he got into his car wearing military-style body armour and a helmet saying 'let's get this party started'

The shooter's rampage began when he got into his car wearing military-style body armour and a helmet saying 'let's get this party started'

The shooter’s rampage began when he got into his car wearing military-style body armour and a helmet saying ‘let’s get this party started’

After retrieving one of at least six assault rifles stored in his car, he walked up to the front door and began firing at the first person he saw

After retrieving one of at least six assault rifles stored in his car, he walked up to the front door and began firing at the first person he saw

After retrieving one of at least six assault rifles stored in his car, he walked up to the front door and began firing at the first person he saw

In addition to the dead, health officials said 48 people were being treated at Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds. Injuries ranged from minor to critical

In addition to the dead, health officials said 48 people were being treated at Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds. Injuries ranged from minor to critical

In addition to the dead, health officials said 48 people were being treated at Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds. Injuries ranged from minor to critical 

A man breaks down in tears as he speaks on a mobile phone near a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand

A man breaks down in tears as he speaks on a mobile phone near a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand

A man breaks down in tears as he speaks on a mobile phone near a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand

Timeline of terror: How the Christchurch shootings unfolded

Friday March 15, 1.30pm local time (12.30am GMT): Gunman identifying himself as Brenton Tarrant live-streams mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque as Friday prayers are underway. The Bangladesh cricket team were on their way to the mosque at the time.

Another shooting takes place at a mosque in Linwood, 3.5 miles to the east. 

1.40pm: Police respond to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch. People are urged to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour. Shortly afterwards, all schools in the city are placed into lockdown.

2.10pm: Police confirm they are attending an ‘evolving situation’ involving an ‘active shooter’

3.30pm: Two explosive devices attached to a car are found and disarmed by a bomb squad at Strickland Street, not far from the Al Noor Mosque.

4pm: One person confirmed to be in custody. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says there have been ‘multiple fatalities’ at two locations – both mosques. Mosques across New Zealand urged to shut their doors.

4.10pm: Prime minister Jacinda Ardern calls it ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’.

5.30pm: Mr Bush says three men and one woman are in custody. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison confirms one of those arrested is Australian.

7.30pm: Ms Ardern says 40 are dead and more than 20 are seriously injured but confirms the offender is in custody 

National security threat level is lifted from low to high.

7.45pm: Britomart train station in central Auckland is evacuated after bags are found unattended. The bags were deemed not suspicious.

9pm: Death toll rises to 49 and Police Commissioner Bush reveals a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder. 

Police are not looking for any named or identified suspects, he says, but adds that it would be ‘wrong to assume that there is no-one else’.

11.50pm: Investigation extends 240 miles to the south where homes are evacuated around a ‘location of interest’ in Dunedin. 

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said Tarrant always ‘threw himself into his own personal training’ before he later became a qualified a trainer and started training others. 

He was very dedicated to his own training and to training others, she said. 

‘He was in the gym for long periods of time, lifting heaving weights. He pretty much transformed his body,’ she said.

The woman also said she had not spoken to him or heard him talk about his political or religious beliefs.

‘From the conversations we had about life he didn’t strike me as someone who had any interest in that or extremist views,’ she said.

‘But I know he’s been travelling since he left Grafton. He has been travelling overseas, anywhere and everywhere.

Local residents leave floral tributes at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead

Local residents leave floral tributes at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead

Local residents leave floral tributes at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead

Floral tributes are left before dawn at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand

Floral tributes are left before dawn at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand

Floral tributes are left before dawn at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand

People taking part in a vigil at the New Zealand War Memorial on Hyde Park Corner following the mosque attacks in Christchurch

People taking part in a vigil at the New Zealand War Memorial on Hyde Park Corner following the mosque attacks in Christchurch

People taking part in a vigil at the New Zealand War Memorial on Hyde Park Corner following the mosque attacks in Christchurch

‘I would say it’s something in the nature of his travels, something he’s been around.

‘I know he’s been to lots of different countries trying to experience lots of different things in life and I would say something’s happened in that time in his travels,’ she said.  

In a previous Facebook message about a trip to Pakistan on Facebook, he wrote: ‘an incredible place filled with the most earnest, kindhearted and hospitable people in the world,’ The Sydney Morning Herald reported.  

‘The beauty of hunza and nagar valley in autumn cannot be beat,’ he stated.  

Pictured: Bloodied bandages on the road after the shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch

Pictured: Bloodied bandages on the road after the shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch

Pictured: Bloodied bandages on the road after the shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch

A man wearing military fatigues (pictured) was arrested outside Papanui High School. Police said they had made four arrests

A man wearing military fatigues (pictured) was arrested outside Papanui High School. Police said they had made four arrests

A man wearing military fatigues (pictured) was arrested outside Papanui High School. Police said they had made four arrests

At least one gunman opened fire at a mosque in New Zealand , shooting at worshippers and killing dozens of people. Pictured: A wounded man is helped from the scene

At least one gunman opened fire at a mosque in New Zealand , shooting at worshippers and killing dozens of people. Pictured: A wounded man is helped from the scene

At least one gunman opened fire at a mosque in New Zealand , shooting at worshippers and killing dozens of people. Pictured: A wounded man is helped from the scene

Police said the investigation had extended 240 miles to the south, where homes in Dunedin were evacuated around a 'location of interest.' They gave no details. Police are pictured in the city on Friday night

Police said the investigation had extended 240 miles to the south, where homes in Dunedin were evacuated around a 'location of interest.' They gave no details. Police are pictured in the city on Friday night

Police said the investigation had extended 240 miles to the south, where homes in Dunedin were evacuated around a ‘location of interest.’ They gave no details. Police are pictured in the city on Friday night

Tarrant entered the Al Noor Mosque on Friday during afternoon prayers and opened fire, capturing the attack on a camera strapped to his helmet.

The distressing video streamed to his Facebook profile shows the 28-year-old man firing more than 100 shots at those inside.

His guns were scrawled with the names of past mass killers and cities where the shootings occurred.

The gunman’s rampage began when he got into his car wearing military-style body armour and a helmet saying ‘let’s get this party started’.

He then drove to the mosque listening to a Serbian folk song glorifying war criminal Radovan Karadzic and military tunes before parking in an alley around the corner.

After retrieving one of at least six guns stored in his car, he walked up to the front door and began firing indiscriminately at worshippers inside.

The gunman stormed inside and fired quick bursts at anyone he saw. One wounded man tried to crawl away but was shot again after he calmly reloaded.

He fired into crowds of huddled worshippers, sometimes not even looking where he was shooting, reloading numerous times.

When then sound of his gun stopped between magazines, the moaning of wounded people could be heard until the shots began again.

Several times he stood over wounded men, reloaded his gun, and shot them multiple times to make sure they were dead.

Tarrant then walked outside and appeared to fire on at least two targets, returned to his car and swapped his shotgun for a rifle.

The gunmen live-streamed the mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque, which happened at 1.30pm as Friday prayers were underway. Police are pictured outside the mosque on Friday

The gunmen live-streamed the mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque, which happened at 1.30pm as Friday prayers were underway. Police are pictured outside the mosque on Friday

The gunmen live-streamed the mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque, which happened at 1.30pm as Friday prayers were underway. Police are pictured outside the mosque on Friday

Survivors gather near the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Road hours after the place of worship was attacked

Survivors gather near the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Road hours after the place of worship was attacked

Survivors gather near the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Road hours after the place of worship was attacked

How killer’s rifles bore white-supremacist references

The self-proclaimed racist who attacked a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers in an assault that killed 49 people used rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal.

These details highlight the toxic beliefs behind an unprecedented, live-streamed massacre, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days.’

Some of the material posted by the killer resembles the meme-heavy hate speech prominent in dark corners of the internet. Beneath the online tropes lies a man who matter-of-factly wrote that he was preparing to conduct a horrific attack.

MUSIC

The shooter’s soundtrack as he drove to the mosque included an upbeat-sounding tune that belies its roots in a destructive European nationalist and religious conflict. 

The nationalist Serb song from the 1992-95 war that tore apart Yugoslavia glorifies Serbian fighters and Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, who is jailed at the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague for genocide and other war crimes against Bosnian Muslims. 

A YouTube video for the song shows emaciated Muslim prisoners in Serb-run camps during the war. ‘Beware Ustashas and Turks,’ says the song, using wartime, derogatory terms for Bosnian Croats and Muslims.

When the gunman returned to his car after the shooting, the song ‘Fire’ by English rock band ‘The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’ can be heard blasting from the speakers. The singer bellows, ‘I am the god of hellfire!’ as the man, a 28-year-old Australian, drives away. 

SYMBOLS

At least two rifles used in the shooting bore references to Ebba Akerlund, an 11-year-old girl killed in an April 2017 truck-ramming attack in Stockholm by Rakhmat Akilov, a 39-year-old Uzbek man. 

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

The self-proclaimed racist believed to have killed 49 people at a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers apparently opened fire with rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal

Akerlund’s death is memorialized in the gunman’s apparent manifesto, published online, as an event that led to his decision to wage war against what he perceives as the enemies of Western civilization.

The number 14 is also seen on the gunman’s rifles. It may refer to ’14 Words,’ which according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is a white supremacist slogan linked to Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf.’ 

He also used the symbol of the Schwarze Sonne, or black sun, which ‘has become synonymous with myriad far-right groups,’ according to the center, which monitors hate groups. 

In photographs from a now deleted Twitter account associated with the suspect that match the weaponry seen in his live-streamed video, there is a reference to ‘Vienna 1683,’ the year the Ottoman Empire suffered a defeat in its siege of the city at the Battle of Kahlenberg. ‘Acre 1189,’ a reference to the Crusades, is also written on the guns.

Four names of legendary Serbs who fought against the 500-year-rule of the Ottomans in the Balkans, written in the Cyrillic alphabet, are also seen on the gunman’s rifles.

The name Charles Martel, who the Southern Poverty Law Center says white supremacists credit ‘with saving Europe by defeating an invading Muslim force at the Battle of Tours in 734,’ was also on the weapons. They also bore the inscription ‘Malta 1565,’ a reference to the Great Siege of Malta, when the Maltese and the Knights of Malta defeated the Turks. 

By Associated Press 

Returning to the mosque he walked over to a pile of dead or wounded men in the room and began shooting them in the head to ensure they were dead.

Once he was satisfied everyone was dead, he ran outside and shot another person he saw on the mosque’s front lawn.

The woman stumbled on to the street and was lying face down in the gutter yelling ‘help me, help me’ as the shooter walked up to her. Tarrant calmly leaned over her and shot her twice in the head.

Seconds later he returned to his car and drove over her body to make his escape, stopping to shoot at least one other person through his car window.

As he drove he expressed regret for not staying longer and ‘burning the mosque to the ground’. Two jerry cans of petrol were earlier seen the the back his car. 

‘But, s**t happens,’ he said. ‘I left one full magazine back there, I know for sure. I had to run along in the middle of the firefight and pick it up.

‘There wasn’t even time to aim there were so many targets. There were so many people, the car park was full, so there’s no real chance of improvement.’

Footage from within the Masjid mosque later showed survivors tending to the wounded.

In a manifesto seemingly written by Tarrant and shared to Twitter, he mentions being inspired by other shooters including Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Oslo, Norway in 2011.

Police escort distraught witnesses away from a mosque in central Christchurch following the massacre. A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder

Police escort distraught witnesses away from a mosque in central Christchurch following the massacre. A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder

Police escort distraught witnesses away from a mosque in central Christchurch following the massacre. A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder

Armed police could be seen pushing back members of the public trying to reach the Masjid Al Noor mosque to check on fellow worshippers

Armed police could be seen pushing back members of the public trying to reach the Masjid Al Noor mosque to check on fellow worshippers

Armed police could be seen pushing back members of the public trying to reach the Masjid Al Noor mosque to check on fellow worshippers

Armed police maintain a presence outside the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Manurewa in Auckland after the attack in Christchurch

Armed police maintain a presence outside the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Manurewa in Auckland after the attack in Christchurch

Armed police maintain a presence outside the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Manurewa in Auckland after the attack in Christchurch

He said he ‘disliked’ Muslims and hated those who had converted to the religion, calling them ‘blood traitors’.

Tarrant said he originally wanted to target a mosque in Dunedin, south of Christchurch, after watching a video on Facebook.

‘But after visiting the mosques in Christchurch and Linwood and seeing the desecration of the church that had been converted to a mosque in Ashburton, my plans changed,’ he wrote.

‘The Christchurch and Linwood mosques had far more invaders.’ 

He said he had been planning an attack for up to two years and decided on Christchurch three months ago.

The shooter said he was motivated to carry out the attack by the death of Swedish schoolgirl Ebba Akerlund, a girl who was killed in a terrorist attack in Stockholm in April 2017.

Tarrant said he was a supporter of Donald Trump as a ‘symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose’.

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured on Friday) said the shootings were an 'unprecedented act of violence'

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured on Friday) said the shootings were an 'unprecedented act of violence'

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured on Friday) said the shootings were an ‘unprecedented act of violence’

Worshippers in Bangledesh march through the streets of Dhaka to condemn the Christchurch mosque attacks

Worshippers in Bangledesh march through the streets of Dhaka to condemn the Christchurch mosque attacks

Worshippers in Bangledesh march through the streets of Dhaka to condemn the Christchurch mosque attacks 

A world united in grief: Leaders around the globe express their horror at New Zealand mosque shootings 

Leaders from around the would have condemned the deadly attack at two New Zealand mosques that left 49 people dead. 

United States President Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his condolences and pledge that the US would do ‘anything we can’ to help New Zealand. 

President Trump tweeted his ‘warmest sympathy and best wishes’ to the people of New Zealand after ‘the horrible massacre in the Mosques’. He added that ‘innocent people have so senselessly died. ‘The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!’   

In the UK, the Queen said she was ‘deeply saddened’ by the attack while Prince Charles said he and his wife were ‘utterly horrified’ to hear about the ‘barbaric’ attacks. 

In a message to the Governor-General of New Zealand, the Queen said: ‘I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives.

‘I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured.

‘At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.’

 The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex also shared their horror at the news. 

Pope Francis denounced the ‘senseless acts of violence’ in the shootings and said that he is praying for the Muslim community and all New Zealanders. 

Erna Solberg, the prime minister of Norway which saw 77 people killed in a far-right attack eight years ago, has expressed solidarity with New Zealand.

He described himself as ‘just a regular white man’.

He said he was born to ‘working class, low-income family… who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people’.

‘My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock. I had a regular childhood, without any great issues,’ he wrote.

The gunman said he carried out the massacre to ‘directly reduce immigration rates to European lands’.

He said New Zealand was not his ‘original choice’ for the attack but said the location would show ‘that nowhere in the world was safe’.

‘We must ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children,’ he wrote.

He wrote that the shooting was an ‘act of revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history’.

‘For the enslavement of millions of Europeans taken from their lands by the Islamic slavers… for the thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks throughout European lands,’ the gunman wrote.

He shared photos to his now-removed Twitter account ahead of the attacks, showing weapons and military-style equipment.

In posts online before the attack Tarrant wrote about ‘taking the fight to the invaders myself’. 

Ms Ardern condemned the attacker, saying: ‘You may have chosen us, but we utterly condemn and reject you.’

‘My thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families.’

Early reports indicated a shooting at Christchurch Hospital. However, Ms Ardern said the mosques were the lone targets on ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’.

Dozens of families spent the night crowding the front doors of Christchurch Hospital, unsure whether their loved ones had survived. One woman took to social media to ask whether anyone had seen her husband.

‘Assalamualaikum [peace be with you] currently we still don’t have any news on my husband. Please keep him on your prayer.’ 

The nation’s terror threat level was elevated to ‘high alert’ following the terror attacks, the second highest possible.

However, police have confirmed there are no further suspects.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed the death toll had risen to 49 as of 9pm local time.

‘This is absolutely tragic. So many people are affected. We don’t know the identities of those who have died yet because those places are in lockdown,’ he said in a statement at about 6pm.

Speaking of the victims, Commissioner Bush said: ‘Our love and thoughts go out to them and all of their family, all of their friends and all of their loved ones.’

He also praised local police officers who responded to the attacks.

The gunman behind at least one of the mosque shootings in New Zealand that left 49 people dead on Friday tried to make a few things clear in the manifesto he left behind: He is a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants. He was set off by attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims. He wanted revenge, and he wanted to create fear. Members of a family react outside the mosque following the shooting in Christchurch

The gunman behind at least one of the mosque shootings in New Zealand that left 49 people dead on Friday tried to make a few things clear in the manifesto he left behind: He is a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants. He was set off by attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims. He wanted revenge, and he wanted to create fear. Members of a family react outside the mosque following the shooting in Christchurch

The gunman behind at least one of the mosque shootings in New Zealand that left 49 people dead on Friday tried to make a few things clear in the manifesto he left behind: He is a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants. He was set off by attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims. He wanted revenge, and he wanted to create fear. Members of a family react outside the mosque following the shooting in Christchurch

Pictured: Grieving members of the public after the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

Pictured: Grieving members of the public after the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

Pictured: Grieving members of the public after the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

‘We have staff around the country making sure everyone is safe, including armed offenders at all mosques. Police staff have gone above and beyond to protect people today.’

Armed police were seen patrolling the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Auckland after the attack in Christchurch.

Bush earlier urged Muslims in New Zealand not to go to mosques on Friday.

Commissioner Bush said four people were taken in to custody with one later released. He also confirmed there were bombs attached to a car near the scene of the shootings, which were disarmed before they could detonate.

Ms Ardern condemned the attacks, saying they were ‘an unprecedented act of violence, an act that has no place in New Zealand.

‘This is not who we are. The people who were the subject of this attack today, New Zealand is their home. They should be safe here. The person who has perpetuated this violent act against them, they have no place in New Zealand society.’ 

She confirmed that police believe the attacks were ‘meticulously’ planned out.

Ms Ardern flew to Wellington from Christchurch to hold a crisis meeting at parliament.

A floral tribute to the victims of the Christchurch massacres is seen on the same avenue as the second mosque

A floral tribute to the victims of the Christchurch massacres is seen on the same avenue as the second mosque

A floral tribute to the victims of the Christchurch massacres is seen on the same avenue as the second mosque

A terrorist who opened fire on a New Zealand mosque published an online manifesto detailing his plans to carry out a massacre hours before the attack

A terrorist who opened fire on a New Zealand mosque published an online manifesto detailing his plans to carry out a massacre hours before the attack

The 73-page document, which he called ‘The Great Replacement’, was published on the morning before Brenton Tarrant opened fire inside the Al Noor Mostque in Christchurch

Police rushed to an Auckland train station after reports of abandoned backpacks. The bomb disposal robot (pictured) detonated a bomb in a 'controlled explosion' while commuters were cordoned off

Police rushed to an Auckland train station after reports of abandoned backpacks. The bomb disposal robot (pictured) detonated a bomb in a 'controlled explosion' while commuters were cordoned off

Police rushed to an Auckland train station after reports of abandoned backpacks. The bomb disposal robot (pictured) detonated a bomb in a ‘controlled explosion’ while commuters were cordoned off

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was ‘horrified’ by the ‘callous, right wing extremist attack’.

‘The situation is still unfolding but our thoughts and prayers are with our Kiwi cousins,’ he said.

He and Ms Ardern discussed the repercussions of the attack later on Friday evening. Australia’s terror threat level did not change as a result of the attacks.

Witnesses described horrific scenes as the gunman went on the rampage just after 1.30pm on Friday. 

A man inside the mosque at the time of the shooting said there ‘bodies all over me’. A man who escaped during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath.

‘My wife is dead,’ he said while wailing.

Witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud described a white man wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest.

‘The guy was wearing like an army [suit]. He had a big gun and lots of bullets. He came through and started shooting everyone in the mosque, everywhere,’ Ahmad Al-Mahmoud told Stuff.

‘They had to smash the door – the glass from the window and the door – to get everyone out.

‘We were trying to get everyone to run away from this area. I ran away from the car park, jumping through the back [yard] of houses.’

Police escort people away from outside one of the mosques targeted in the shooting. The massacre in Christchurch left 49 dead

Police escort people away from outside one of the mosques targeted in the shooting. The massacre in Christchurch left 49 dead

Police escort people away from outside one of the mosques targeted in the shooting. The massacre in Christchurch left 49 dead

A police officer photographs witnesses near the scene of one of the shootings on Friday. The massacre happened during Friday prayers

A police officer photographs witnesses near the scene of one of the shootings on Friday. The massacre happened during Friday prayers

A police officer photographs witnesses near the scene of one of the shootings on Friday. The massacre happened during Fridayt

The country's police commissioner, Mike Bush, said 49 people were confirmed dead and that a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder. Pictured: A tearful woman waits outside the mosque on Friday

The country's police commissioner, Mike Bush, said 49 people were confirmed dead and that a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder. Pictured: A tearful woman waits outside the mosque on Friday

The country’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, said 49 people were confirmed dead and that a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder. Pictured: A tearful woman waits outside the mosque on Friday 

A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath. Heavily armed police are pictured escorting people from the area

A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath. Heavily armed police are pictured escorting people from the area

A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath. Heavily armed police are pictured escorting people from the area

Witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud described one of the shooters as being white, with blond hair and wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest

Witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud described one of the shooters as being white, with blond hair and wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest

Witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud described one of the shooters as being white, with blond hair and wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier said at least 20 other people had been seriously injured, and described it as 'one of New Zealand's darkest days', adding: 'What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier said at least 20 other people had been seriously injured, and described it as 'one of New Zealand's darkest days', adding: 'What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier said at least 20 other people had been seriously injured, and described it as ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’, adding: ‘What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence’

Al-Mahmoud said the man was ‘wearing a helmet’ and must have fired ‘hundreds’ of gunshots.    

Another witness said he ran behind the mosque to call the police after hearing the gun go off. 

‘I heard the sound of the gun. And the second one I heard, I ran. Lots of people were sitting on the floor. I ran behind the mosque, rang the police. 

‘I saw one gun on the floor. Lots of people died and injured.’   

Meanwhile, dramatic footage has emerged of a person suspected of being involved in the attack being arrested on Friday afternoon. 

The video filmed by a passing motorist shows the suspect’s grey station wagon wedged between the gutter and another police car, with its front wheels in the air spinning.

The suspect appeared to still be inside as officers approached the vehicle with their weapons drawn.

One officer reached inside the vehicle and dragged a person out, as a second stood guard with their weapon drawn.

The suspect was seen wearing dark clothing, and in the footage an officer appeared to have hit the person.

The Bangladesh cricket team (pictured) were on their way to Al Noor Mosque when shooting broke out inside

The Bangladesh cricket team (pictured) were on their way to Al Noor Mosque when shooting broke out inside

The Bangladesh cricket team (pictured) were on their way to Al Noor Mosque when shooting broke out inside

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said there were ‘some absolute acts of bravery’ during the arrests of four people.

Bangladesh players and support staff have been preparing for the third test of a series against New Zealand, set to begin on Saturday, and were walking through Hagley Park when shooting broke out at the Al Noor mosque.

Tweets from sports reporters and team members say the group ‘just escaped’ the shooting, which saw a man enter the mosque and fire multiple shots at dozens of people as they tried to flee. 

The team’s opening batsman, Tamim Iqbal said on Twitter the ‘entire team got saved from active shooters’.

He said it was a ‘frightening experience’ and asked supporters to keep the team in their prayers.

Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim said Allah had saved the team.

‘We r [sic] extremely lucky,’ he wrote. ‘Never want to see this things [sic] happen again… pray for us.’

Shrinivas Chandrasekaran, the team’s performance and strategic analyst said they had ‘just escaped active shooters’. He said their hearts were pounding and there was ‘panic everywhere’. 

A man was seen with bloodstains on his trousers near the mosque after the shooting, as 48 people are left with gun wounds

A man was seen with bloodstains on his trousers near the mosque after the shooting, as 48 people are left with gun wounds

A man was seen with bloodstains on his trousers near the mosque after the shooting, as 48 people are left with gun wounds

A police officer gestures to a person outside the mosque after the shooting in Christchurch

A police officer gestures to a person outside the mosque after the shooting in Christchurch

A police officer gestures to a person outside the mosque after the shooting in Christchurch

Members of the public react in front of the Al Noor Mosque as they fear for their relatives

Members of the public react in front of the Al Noor Mosque as they fear for their relatives

Members of the public react in front of the Al Noor Mosque as they fear for their relatives

Parents refuse to leave without their children as their school, Te Waka Unua School, was in lockdown for hours on Friday

Parents refuse to leave without their children as their school, Te Waka Unua School, was in lockdown for hours on Friday

Parents refuse to leave without their children as their school, Te Waka Unua School, was in lockdown for hours on Friday

ESPN cricinfo correspondent Mohammad Isam told the New Zealand Herald the team were ‘not in a mental state to play cricket at all,’ following the horrific attack.

‘I think they want to go back home as soon as possible. I’m speaking from experience, I’m speaking from what I’ve heard,’ he said.

‘Everyone is at the Hagley Park dressing room … two players are back at the hotel. They didn’t come out for the prayers so they are back at the hotel and the entire coaching staff are safe.’

The scheduled test between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been cancelled. 

Later in the day, two abandoned backpacks sparked another bomb scare at Auckland’s largest train station. A bomb disposal robot was used to investigate the backpacks while pedestrians were cordoned off. 

While there was no reason to believe there were any more suspects, the prime minister said the national threat level was raised from low to high. 

Air New Zealand cancelled several flights in and out of Christchurch, saying it couldn’t properly screen customers and baggage.

Police said the investigation had extended 240 miles to the south, where homes in Dunedin were evacuated around a ‘location of interest.’ They gave no details.

Among the victims was a Jordanian man, the country’s foreign ministry said, the first and only victim identified so far.

People from around the world were in the mosque at the time of the assault.

Among them were were six Indonesians – three of whom were reported safe, the country’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi said, adding they were searching for the others.

A Saudi Arabian man, two Malaysians, two Turks and at least five Jordanians were among those wounded.

India’s high commissioner to New Zealand said nine people of Indian nationality or origin were missing.

Young children were among 48 people being treated at Christchurch Hospital.  

A shirtless man speaks on the phone as an armed police officer patrols the area outside a mosque in Christchurch

A shirtless man speaks on the phone as an armed police officer patrols the area outside a mosque in Christchurch

A shirtless man speaks on the phone as an armed police officer patrols the area outside a mosque in Christchurch

Witnesses reported hearing as many as 50 gunshots at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island

Witnesses reported hearing as many as 50 gunshots at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island

Witnesses reported hearing as many as 50 gunshots at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country’s South Island

Police urged people near the area to stay indoors and report suspicious behaviour, describing the incident as 'critical'

Police urged people near the area to stay indoors and report suspicious behaviour, describing the incident as 'critical'

Police urged people near the area to stay indoors and report suspicious behaviour, describing the incident as ‘critical’

Shocked family members are seen standing out the front of the mosque, unsure whether their loved ones have survived

Shocked family members are seen standing out the front of the mosque, unsure whether their loved ones have survived

Shocked family members are seen standing out the front of the mosque, unsure whether their loved ones have survived

The gunman entered and opened fire while hundreds of people were inside the packed mosque for Friday prayers

The gunman entered and opened fire while hundreds of people were inside the packed mosque for Friday prayers

The gunman entered and opened fire while hundreds of people were inside the packed mosque for Friday prayers

A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath

A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath

A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath 

Armed police officers were seen outside Christchurch Hospital after the shooting, remaining there through the night

Armed police officers were seen outside Christchurch Hospital after the shooting, remaining there through the night

Armed police officers were seen outside Christchurch Hospital after the shooting, remaining there through the night

The shooting happened near Cathedral Square where thousands of children were protesting for climate change action. The protesting children were told to go home to ensure their safety.   

Christchurch Boys’ and Girls’ high schools were both placed into lockdown. The restrictions were lifted hours later.

Parents of students at Christchurch Girls’ High School were sent a text message telling them the lockdown was ‘not an exercise’.  

The Canterbury District Health Board activated its mass casualty plan and the city council placed its central city buildings into lockdown. 

Rugby star Sonny Bill Williams shared an emotional tribute to those killed in Friday’s mosque shooting.

In a video posted to Twitter, a tearful Williams, who is a proud Muslim, said he ‘couldn’t put into words how I feel right now’.

The 33-year-old told followers he was sending prayers to the loved ones of those killed, and praying himself the victims would end up in paradise.

‘Just sending my duas (prayers) and Mashallah (god willing) – everyone that’s been killed today in Christchurch… your families … [I’m] just sending my duas to your loved ones and Mashallah you guys are all in paradise,’ he said.

‘I’m just deeply, deeply saddened that this would happen in New Zealand.’  

Worst peacetime gun massacres 

New Zealand’s worst ever gun massacre ranks among some of the world’s most horrible mass murders.

The death toll has surpassed Australia’s April 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, which saw 35 people gunned down at an historic tourist attraction. New Prime Minister John Howard spearheaded national gun laws in the wake of this tragedy.

It occurred just seven weeks after Scotland’s Dunblane massacre, which saw 16 children and one teacher shot dead near the town of Stirling.

Port Arthur was the world’s worst peaceful massacre until June 2016, when a 29-year-old security guard killed 49 people at the American Pulse gay nightclub at Orlando, Florida. Friday’s Auckland attack has now matched that total.

Just over a year later, in October 2017,  a gunman opened fire killing 58 people at the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas.

The United States has been home to a spate of gun massacres, defined as the death of four or more people.

In April 2007, 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech when a student opened fire at Blacksburg.

In December 2012, a gunman shot and killed 20 children aged between six and seven years old at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

In November 2017, a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church at Sutherland Springs in Texas, killing 27 people, including the 14-year-old daughter of the church pastor. 

Until now, New Zealand had not had a mass shooting since June 1994, when David Bain, 22, killed his father Robin, mother Margaret, his sisters Arawa and Laniet , and his brother Stephen.

New Zealand tightened gun laws after the Aramoana massacre of November 1990, which saw 13 people shot dead in a small township near Dunedin , following a neighbourhood dispute. 

Link hienalouca.com

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