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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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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.”

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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

New Zealand Passes Zero Carbon Bill Aimed at Combating Climate Change

We in New Zealand are on the right side of history, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech at Parliament

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Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy. Pixabay

New Zealand on Thursday passed a bill to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and meet its commitments under the Paris climate accord.

“I am really proud to stand in this House today for what is a historic moment… Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy… We in New Zealand are on the right side of history,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech at Parliament.

The law commits New Zealand to keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as stipulated by the Paris Agreement and marks an important step in the fight against the climate emergency looming over the world according to more than 11,000 scientists worldwide, reports Efe news.

“We’ve led the world before in nuclear free and votes for women, now we are leading again,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw tweeted.

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The zero emissions target excludes methane emissions but the law pledges to reduce them gradually. Pixabay

The zero emissions target excludes methane emissions but the law pledges to reduce them gradually.

The law includes the establishment of a green investment fund worth NZ$100 million ($64 million), a carbon trading scheme and inclusion of agriculture in emissions pricing by 2025, and the plantation of one billion trees by 2028, according to a statement by the Ministry of Climate Change.

The law also stipulates suspending the release of new permits for hydrocarbon explorations at sea and supports the production of cheaper electric vehicles apart from setting a goal of 100 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2035.

The legislation aims to cut biological methane emissions from agriculture by 10 per cent until 2030, and targets 24-47 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050.

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Simon Bridges, leader of the opposition and the New Zealand National Party, said that his party supported the bill but would keep trying to introduce changes in the future in order to make it better. (IANS)