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“Saw Blood Flowing Like A River”: Survivor Recounts New Zealand Mosque Attacks

“New Zealand is a peaceful place, and we have never seen anything like this before,” he said. “Migrants are now getting help — more than anytime before — and showing us support and strength.”

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Paper links are draped over the fence at Hagley Park near one of the mosques were more than 40 people were killed in Christchurch, March 15, 2019. (S. Miller/VOA). VOA

Abdulkadir Ababora was sitting in the front row of a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week when a 28-year-old Australian gunman opened fire during Friday prayers.

Fifty worshipers were killed in the March 15 attacks in two mosques, and the gunman appeared intent of taking as many lives as possible.

“Those who were hit with the automatic weapons fell, and he went and checked those who were breathing and started shooting at those who were already on the ground,” Abdulkadir told VOA’s Afaan Oromoo service.

Abdulkadir, meanwhile, lay under a bookshelf, pretending to be dead.

“I pulled the Quranic bookshelf on top of me to hide my head under and held my breath so that he didn’t detect I was alive,” Abdulkadir said.

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a Post Cabinet media press conference at Parliament in Wellington on March 18, 2019. VOA

The kinds of weapons used in the attack are now banned in the country. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced Thursday that the government would outlaw “military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles,” effective immediately.

Abdulkadir said he “saw blood flowing like a river” as bullets pierced victims in his mosque.

“I didn’t think it was real, and I thought it was something out of a cinema or a movie,” he added.

Originally from Ethiopia, Abdulkadir now works as a taxi driver in New Zealand. He left his wife, who gave birth two weeks ago, at home and his other children at school before heading to the mosque that ill-fated day.

“I am not sure if he passed me thinking I was dead, but he shot those who were on my left and right,” Abdulkadir said. “All I was thinking about was my wife and my three children. … I was thinking that it was going to be my turn, and I lost hope at the moment.”

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Students embrace at a floral tribute at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 19, 2019. VOA

Victims’ families have begun receiving their loved ones’ bodies. On Tuesday, six victims’ bodies were returned to families, according to police, and the rest will soon get a place to rest. The victims included refugees from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan, along with other people seeking refuge.

Also Read: These are The Best & Worst Fabrics of Summer

Mike Bush, New Zealand’s commissioner of police, said Thursday that all of the victims have been identified and their families notified, earlier saying, “this is for us an absolute priority for family reasons, for compassionate reasons and for cultural reasons.” Among those killed was 3-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim, the youngest victim of the attacks.

Despite the attacks and ongoing islamophobic sentiments, Abdulkadir remains hopeful.

“New Zealand is a peaceful place, and we have never seen anything like this before,” he said. “Migrants are now getting help — more than anytime before — and showing us support and strength.” (VOA)

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New Zealand Bans Use of Single-Use Plastic Bags

Single-use plastic shopping bags are defined as any plastic bag which has handles and is less than 70 microns thick

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Plastic shopping bags in the fruit and vegetable section and other areas of supermarkets are the only exemption. Wikimedia Commons

Single-use plastic bags have been officially banned for all New Zealand retailers from Monday. As stipulated by the Waste Minimisation (Plastic Shopping Bags) Regulations 2018, which came into force on Monday, New Zealand retailers including stores, supermarkets and restaurants will no longer be able to sell or distribute any single-use plastic shopping bags, reports Xinhua news agency.

Single-use plastic shopping bags are defined as any plastic bag which has handles and is less than 70 microns thick. Plastic shopping bags in the fruit and vegetable section and other areas of supermarkets are the only exemption.

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Businesses were given six months ahead of the ban to phase-out single-use plastic bags. Wikimedia Commons

New Zealand Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said that the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags is a step towards healthier oceans and giving nature a hand.

ALSO READ: Greenpeace Asks for Ambitious Measures from G20 Group to Tackle The Plastic Waste Crisis

“New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and want to help ensure we live up to it. The plastic shopping bag ban is one step to tackle New Zealand’s waste issues. We also need to recharge our materials recovery and recycling systems and shift to a circular economy,” Sage said.

Mainstream supermarkets have already made the change away from single-use plastic shopping bags. Businesses were given six months ahead of the ban to phase-out single-use plastic bags. (IANS)