Monday September 23, 2019
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What We Know So Far About the New Zealand Mosque Attack

Young children were among the 48 people wounded in the attack and were being treated for gunshot wounds

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New zealand
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.”

muslims
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.

Climate
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)

Next Story

New Zealand To Decriminalize Abortion Through Reform Bill

Abortion to be considered a health issue and not a crime, proposed in new reform bill in New Zealand

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Abortion decriminalised in new zealand
Abortion is a crime in New Zealand till now and the government is working to scrape that law. Pixabay

The New Zealand government on Monday announced a bill to decriminalize abortion so that it can be treated as a health issue, rather than a crime.

The reform bill proposes removing any statutory medical exam for women not more than 20 weeks into their pregnancy and includes the setting up of “safe areas” near abortion facilities to prevent women from being harassed or attacked, Efe news quoted Justice Minister Andrew Little as saying in a statement.

“Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue; a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body,” Little said.

“Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It’s time for this to change.”

New Zealand announces bill to decriminalize abortion
A new bill proposes to decriminalize abortion in New Zealand. Pixabay

The bill, which will have its first reading in the New Zealand parliament on Thursday, also requires a health practitioner to authorize women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant to terminate the pregnancy if it poses a risk to their mental and physical health as well as their wellbeing.

Also Read: 40-Year-Old Woman Suffering from Breast Cancer Delivers Baby through IVF Method

It also proposes that doctors opposed to providing abortion services on the grounds of conscience must inform pregnant women, who may seek services elsewhere, as well as that women be able to self-refer to a service provider, and health practitioners will advise women of counselling services available.

Currently, abortion is considered a crime in New Zealand, although women can terminate their pregnancies if two doctors consider it advisable for physical and mental health reasons. (IANS)