Friday, 22 March, 2019

Nine missing after Christchurch mosque attacks

The man charged in relation to the Christchurch massacre Brenton Tarrant gestures in the dock for his appearance for mur New Zealand Attacker Purchased All Firearms Legally Mark Mitchell-Pool Getty Images16 Mar 2019
Charles Bowen | 17 March, 2019, 04:38

"What I can say is that an 18-year- old man will appear in court on Monday but that arrest was tangential to this matter and we do not believe that he was involved in this attack either", Mr Bush said.

The Christchurch attacker could have killed even more people as he was on the move at the time of his arrest, and had more firearms in his vehicle, New Zealand's PM said, praising police who responded to the call in just 36 minutes.

Wearing a black scarf, Ardern hugged members of the Muslim community at a Christchurch refugee centre, saying she would ensure freedom of religion in New Zealand.

Ms Ardern has been fulsome in her praise of police officers and emergency services, as well as defence specialists for defusing improvised explosive devices.

Footage of the attack live streamed on Facebook showed the gunman entering the mosque and shooting randomly at people.

One of the two, a woman, has been released, and a man remains in custody on firearms charges, he said.

Residents pay their respects by placing flowers for the victims of the mosques attacks in Christchurch. Dozens more were taken to hospital, with about 48 discharged since the shootings.

Speaking to reporters in Wellington, Mike Bush said by Saturday night all victims had been removed from the scenes of the massacres at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques.

Before Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history took place in 1990 in the small town of Aramoana, where a gunman killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbour.

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Hungry for any news, families and friends of the victims gathered at the city's Hagley College, near the hospital.

New Zealand has in the past tried to tighten firearm laws, but a strong gun lobby and culture of hunting has stymied such efforts. "But we are so aware of the cultural and religious needs, so we are doing that as quickly and sensitively as possible", Bush said.

'Those decisions have yet to be taken, ' he told Radio New Zealand.

The suspect had five guns with him during the attack, described by multiple media outlets as "two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns, and one lever-action firearm".

Hagen Hopkins via Getty ImagesPrime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on Friday.

"For them to come to what they thought was a safe country and end up facing a shocking incident like this is really sad to hear", says Mark Greenhill, news director for New Zealand's news website Stuff.

She is calling for gun reform in the wake of the killings. Armed police were deployed at several locations in all cities, unusual in a country where levels of gun violence are low. Ardern suggested "now is the time for change" and hinted she was closely looking at rules regulating ownership of semi-automatic weapons.

He said the Fijian people stood with their Pacific family in this time of suffering and sadness, and we condemn all forms of hatred and terror.

Western leaders from Donald Trump to Theresa May expressed solidarity with New Zealanders, deploring what the White House called a "vicious act of hate".

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