NZ MASS SHOOTING: Young children among 48 massacred at mosques
THE main suspect in the mass shooting in New Zealand’s who massacred 48 people at two mosques intended to continue the rampage before he was caught by police, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday.
“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.
The suspect has been identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian citizen. He has been charged with murder, though Ardern added further charges are likely.
“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.
Radio New Zealand today reported the dead include a five-year-old girl and her father, who were chased by the gunman and shot.
The victims have yet to be named by officials in New Zealand.
Tarrant, handcuffed and wearing a white prison suit, stood silently in the Christchurch District Court where he was remanded without a plea. He is due back in court on April 5 and police said he was likely to face further charges.
Yesterday’s attack was the worst ever peacetime mass killing in New Zealand and the country had raised its security threat level to the highest.
Tarrant has been described as a suspected white supremacist, based on his social media activity.
Footage of the attack on one of the mosques was broadcast live on Facebook, and a “manifesto” denouncing immigrants as “invaders” was also posted online via links to related social media accounts.
The video showed a man driving to the Al Noor mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people with a semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines. Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay on the floor, the video showed.
At one stage the shooter returns to his car, changes weapons, re-enters the mosque and again begins shooting. The camera attached to his head recording the massacre follows the barrel of his weapon, like some macabre video game.
Forty-one people were killed at the Al Noor mosque.
Police said the alleged shooter took seven minutes to travel to the second mosque in the suburb of Linwood, where seven people were killed. No images have emerged from the second mosque.
Tarrant was arrested in a car, which police said was carrying improvised explosive devices, 36 minutes after they were first called.
The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan. Muslims account for just over one percent of New Zealand’s population.
None of the bodies had yet been released due to the investigation, leaving families unable to bury their dead within the 24 hours customary in Islam.
Leaders around the world expressed sorrow and disgust at the attacks, with some deploring the demonisation of Muslims.
US President Donald Trump, who condemned the attack as a “horrible massacre”, was praised by the accused gunman in a manifesto posted online as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”.
Ardern said she had spoken to Trump, who had asked how he could help. “My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities,” she said she told him.
Political and Islamic leaders across Asia and the Middle East voiced concern over the targeting of Muslims.
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan posted on social media. “1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror.”