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Police cordon off the area in front of the Al Noor Mosque after a shooting in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. VOA

The victims

Forty-nine people were killed Friday in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called “an extraordinary act of violence.”


“Our gun laws will change,” Ardern promised in a news conference Saturday morning, local time. She said the shooter had five guns, two semi-automatic, all legally obtained.

Young children were among the 48 people wounded in the attack and were being treated for gunshot wounds. Forty-one people were killed at Al Noor Mosque and seven people were killed at Linwood Mosque, a 10-minute drive away. One person died later at a hospital.

The suspects

Three people were in custody. Ardern said none had been on security watch lists.​

A man suspected in at least one of the shootings appeared briefly in court Saturday. Brenton Tarrant, 28, was led by two armed guards into the court in Christchurch, where a judge read one charge of murder to him.

After the suspect left the court, the judge said that while “there is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others.”


Men leave the Islamic Cultural Center of New York under increased police security following the shooting in New Zealand, March 15, 2019, in New York. VOA

Television New Zealand identified Tarrant as being from Grafton, New South Wales, Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Tarrant was an Australian citizen and described the suspect as an “extremist right-wing violent terrorist.”

Tarrant worked as a personal trainer, according to the Australian Broadcasting Co. Tracy Gray, manager of a gym where Tarrant was employed, said he began traveling overseas in 2011, going to Europe and Asia, including North Korea. A photo published online by ABC shows Tarrant in Pakistan in 2018.

The attack

The gunman live-streamed the assault on Facebook from a head-mounted camera, and the footage showed how victims were killed inside one of the mosques. The shooter broadcast the footage live after publishing a manifesto in which he called immigrants “invaders.”

The manifesto said the shooter picked New Zealand for his attack to show that “nowhere in the world was safe.”

In a news conference Saturday morning, Ardern said Tarrant’s onslaught was cut short when he was apprehended.

“It was his intention to continue his attack,” the prime minister said.

Mosques closed, security tight

Ardern called the shooting a “terrorist attack,” and authorities advised all mosques in Christchurch to shut down until further notice.

Police were on high alert in Christchurch and elsewhere. The prime minister asked residents of Christchurch to stay home if possible Saturday.


People gather at a vigil to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, March 15, 2019. VOA

Reaction in US

New Zealand’s ambassador to the United States, Rosemary Banks, told VOA that she grew up in Christchurch. She said she was “shocked and saddened by this abhorrent act.”

U.S. President Donald Trump extended condolences on Twitter to New Zealanders and said, “The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do.”

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen later said U.S. authorities were monitoring the situation and that “attacks on peaceful people in their place of worship are abhorrent and will not be tolerated. The department strongly stands with those of all faiths as they seek to worship in peace.”

Global response

The attack was condemned around the globe, with leaders from Pakistan, Turkey, Britain, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Japan and the European Union all sending their condolences and offering support to New Zealand.

ALSO READ: US Muslims Feel Threatened After Open Fire at Two NZ Mosques

The victims of Friday’s shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Violent crime rare in New Zealand

Mass shootings, and violent crime in general, are rare in New Zealand, a country of nearly 5 million people. Until Friday, the country’s worst mass shooting occurred in 1990 when a lone gunman killed 13 people in the small town of Aramoana. (VOA)


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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


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