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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.

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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 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)