49 Murdered in Terror Attack on New Zealand Mosques

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A "right-wing extremist" armed with semi-automatic weapons rampaged through two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch during afternoon prayers Friday, killing 49 worshipers and wounding dozens more.

The attack, thought to be the deadliest against Muslims in the West in modern times, was immediately dubbed terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as she led a shocked nation on one of its "darkest days."

The attacker live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away.

A 28-year-old Australian-born man has been arrested and charged with murder. 

He is set to appear at the Christchurch District Court early Saturday. Two other men remain in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown. 

The chief suspect allegedly published a racist "manifesto" on social media before the attack, featuring conspiracy theories about Europeans being displaced, and details of two years of preparation and radicalization leading up to the shootings.

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," said Ardern. "From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned."

Two IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were found in a car and neutralized by the military, police said.

Speaking in Sydney, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the gunman as "an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist."

His two targets were the Masjid al Noor mosque, where 41 people died, and a second, smaller mosque in the suburb of Linwood, where seven more died. The remaining victim succumbed in hospital. 

The dead were said to include women and children. Around 48 people were treated for gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital, including young children, with injuries ranging from critical to minor.

The survivors included 17 members of Bangladesh's cricket team, whose game against New Zealand on Saturday has been postponed, and a Palestinian man who fled for his life after seeing someone being shot in the head.

"I heard three quick shots, then after about 10 seconds it started again. It must have been an automatic -- no one could pull a trigger that quick," the man who did not wish to be named, told AFP.

"Then people started running out. Some were covered in blood," he said.

- Mosque warning -

New Zealand police described the footage shot by the gunman as "extremely distressing" and warned web users that they could be liable for up to 10 years in jail for sharing such "objectionable content."

In addition to the footage -- which AFP has verified, but is not distributing -- a number of pictures were posted to a social media account showing a semi-automatic weapon covered in the names of historical figures, many of whom were involved in the killing of Muslims.

The attack has shocked New Zealanders, who are used to seeing around 50 murders a year in the entire country of 4.8 million and pride themselves on living in a secure and welcoming place.

Police, who initially imposed a city-wide lockdown, sent armed officers to several locations.

In Auckland, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away, two unattended bags left near a railway station were detonated by military explosives experts.

Police also attended a property in Dunedin which they believe is linked to the attack and evacuated nearby residents.

The southeastern city was named in the suspect's manifesto as the original target for his attack.

Police warned Muslims across the country not to visit mosques "anywhere in New Zealand" in the wake of the Christchurch attacks. Friday is Islam's holy day.

Christchurch city council offered a helpline for parents looking for kids attending a mass climate change rally near the shooting. 

- 'Bodies all over' -

The attack shocked the local Muslim population, many of whom had come to New Zealand as refugees.

The Ardern government has been vocal in its support for opening the doors to those suffering from wars in Syria, Afghanistan and beyond.

One witness told news website Stuff he was praying when he heard shooting -- and then saw his wife lying dead on the footpath outside when he fled.

Another man said he saw children being shot.

"There were bodies all over," he said.

The Bangladesh cricket team -- which had been in Christchurch for a test match and was about to go into the mosque when the attack happened -- all escaped without injury.

"They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel," he told AFP.

At least two Jordanians were among the dead, according to that country's foreign minister, while Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Faisal said four citizens of his country were being treated in hospital for injuries and another five were missing.

The attacks sparked horror and revulsion around the world. 

U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the "horrible massacre" in which "innocent people have so senselessly died."

Mass shootings are very rare in New Zealand, which tightened its gun laws to restrict access to semi-automatic rifles in 1992, two years after a mentally ill man shot dead 13 people in the South Island town of Aramoana.

However, anyone over 16 can apply for a standard firearms licence after doing a safety course, which allows them to purchase and use a shotgun unsupervised.

Christchurch, a relatively small city on New Zealand's south island, hit global headlines in 2011 when it was struck by a deadly earthquake, killing more than 180 people.

Comments 8
Thumb lubnani.masi7i 2 months

He must have been a 'lone' disturbed gunman....and not a terrorist.

Thumb justice 2 months

50 dead so far including women and children and tens injured.

Thumb blablablablabla 2 months

if we were like SOSeash and his trolls squelettes, we would be happy, hailing the gunman, like when he was hailing daesh.
But fortunately we are not as disgusting

RIP to the families

Thumb whyaskwhy 2 months

Blabla if your looking to get some attention here as you obviously are being the immature teen here, suggest you go over to WWW.lonelysuicidist.com they maybe able to help your need.

Thumb Puppet 2 months

I have the utmost respect and deep appreciation for Mr. blablablabla for many reasons chief among them:

- He is Christian European and not shia iranian
- He is a successful business mogul
-He has an office in Paris, France
-He has a beautiful secretary named Beatrice
-He has state-of-the-art telex machine he uses in his business dealings

Missing arturo 2 months

This is a tragedy. No one is safe when there are terrorists around who indiscriminately kill civilians.

Thumb whyaskwhy 2 months

True Arturo this is another example of a demented person who turned to terror to get his pointless view across the media. It will do the exact opposite of what hatred he was trying to portray as a necessity. Most sensible folks will see that this tragedy will draw people together to fight terrorism.

Thumb s.o.s 2 months

unfortunately, islamophobia doesn't get similar coverage was judeophobia often wrongly labeled as antisemitism. Would this have been a synagogue, this would make the headlines for a month.... alas for Muslims, it'll be over within a couple of days.