Friday May 24, 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.

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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

France, New Zealand Seek to Curb Online Extremism

Australian national Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old white supremacist, is the suspect in the March 15 Christchurch attack, during which he fired at people while they were praying

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday said the country will join forces with France against the use of social media to organise and promote terrorism.

Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron will chair a meeting in Paris with representatives of countries and technology companies to seek their agreement to a pledge called “Christchurch Call” to eliminate violent extremist content online, Efe news reported.

The meeting will take place on May 15, exactly two months after the attack on two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch, in which 50 people were killed and which was broadcast live through Facebook by the attacker.

Ardern denounced the “unprecedented” use of social media as a tool to promote terrorism and hate in that attack and called for a “show of leadership” to ensure social media is never used in that way again.

“We all need to act, and that includes social media providers taking more responsibility for the content that is on their platforms, and taking action so that violent extremist content cannot be published and shared,” she said in a statement.

A migrant is seen in silhouette near flames from a burning makeshift shelter on the second day of the evacuation of migrants and their transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp called the “Jungle” in Calais, France, Oct. 25, 2016. VOA

“It’s critical that technology platforms like Facebook are not perverted as a tool for terrorism, and instead become part of a global solution to countering extremism. This meeting presents an opportunity for an act of unity between governments and the tech companies,” she added.

The meeting in Paris will be held alongside the “Tech for Humanity” meeting of G7 Digital Ministers, of which France is the Chair, and France’s separate “Tech for Good” summit, both scheduled on May 15.

Also Read- China Places Petitioners Under Surveillance, City-Wide Security

Australian national Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old white supremacist, is the suspect in the March 15 Christchurch attack, during which he fired at people while they were praying.

Facebook took down 1.5 million copies of the video in the 24 hours after the attack, while YouTube announced that it had removed tens of thousands of videos of the assault – an “unprecedented” number in terms of its reach and the speed with which it spread online. (IANS)