UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during Friday prayers left 49 dead, police said. According to the medical authorities of the municipality, 48 people wounded by firearms were hospitalized. Four people were arrested.
The shootings that broke out on Friday in two mosques in Christchurch killed 49 people, the police chief of New Zealand said.
41 people were killed in the first, seven in the other and one wounded succumbed to the hospital, said Mike Bush, adding that a man in his twenties had been indicted for murder.
Four suspects, who are part of the extremist circles but were not under surveillance, were arrested by the police, said the commissioner, adding that the state of alert was raised to its maximum level.
The police also add that they have defused improvised explosive devices. According to the medical authorities of the municipality, 48 people wounded by firearms were hospitalized.
“The deaths, as far as we know, occurred in two places, a mosque on Deans Avenue and another mosque on Linwood Avenue,” said Commissioner Mike Bush.
On this day of prayer for Muslims, the police ask the faithful to avoid mosques “everywhere in New Zealand,” he added, quoted by AFP.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her country was experiencing one of her “darkest days” after “unprecedented” shootings at mosques in Christchurch.
“Clearly, what happened is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” she said in a speech to a nation bruised by deadly attacks.
What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) March 15, 2019
The shooter is an “extremist terrorist right and violent”
The shootings in two mosques in Christchurch are the work of a “violent extremist right-wing terrorist,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, adding that the shooter from Christchurch was an Australian. He added that the investigation was in the hands of the New Zealand authorities.
#NewsAlert | Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says individual taken into custody over New Zealand shooting is Australian-born citizen (Reuters)
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) March 15, 2019
“It is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack,” said Premier Jacinda Ardern. “As far as we know, (the attack) seems to have been well planned.”
Apparently inspired by shooting games, the author of the shooting was filmed shooting at worshipers in a mosque. The police have asked people not to share these “extremely painful images” that have been posted on Facebook Live.
A “manifesto” posted on accounts linked to the same Facebook page refers to the theses of the “great replacement” circulating in far-right circles and which theorizes the disappearance of “European peoples”.
A terrorist impacted by his visit to Europe, including France
In his “manifesto” of 73 pages published before the attacks, the assailant of Australian nationality claims to have been impacted, in his vision, by his trip to Europe, particularly in France in April and May 2017.
He adds to have perceived, during his displacement, an “invasion of France by non-whites”.
According to 20 minutes, on his Twitter account, the shooter had as an illustration an image of the Nice bombing showing a girl mowed by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. The Australian also claims that he was impacted, in his vision, by his trip to Europe, especially in France in April and May 2017.
Enhanced security measures in France
Christophe Castaner announced having asked the prefects to strengthen the surveillance of places of worship after the double bombing.
“Patrols will be provided close to the denominational spaces,” added the Minister of the Interior, who also expressed his “solidarity with the New Zealand people” mourned by this “odious terrorist attack”.
Following the attacks, security measures were also tightened near the mosques in London.
“I had bodies all over me”
Syed Mazharuddin, survivor of the attack, told New Zealand Herald that a man who usually cared for the maintenance of the mosque, seized on the terrorist and “seized his weapon”. “The hero tried to chase him, but he could not find the trigger for the weapon … He ran behind him but people were waiting for him in the car and he ran away,” he said.
At the time of the shooting, the Masjid al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue was filled with worshipers, including members of the Bangladesh National Cricket Team. These came out unscathed.
A witness told the news website Stuff.co.nz that he was praying there when he heard shots. While running away, he saw his wife dead in front of the religious building.
Another man said he saw children being shot. “I had bodies all over me.”
A witness told Radio New Zealand that he heard gunshots and saw four people lying on the ground, “with blood everywhere”.
Putin denounces “violent and cynical” crime
Many heads of state have denounced the Christchurch attacks. Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolence to the New Zealand Prime Minister, hoping that those responsible for the attack will be punished.
“The attack on civilians gathered for a prayer strikes with its violence and cynicism,” he wrote, adding that Russia shared the mourning of those who had lost their loved ones.
The White House denounces “an act of hatred”
“The United States strongly condemns the attack in Christchurch. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the New Zealand people and their government in the face of this heinous act of hatred, “said the White House through spokesperson Sarah Sanders.
Paris denounces “heinous crimes”
“All our thoughts for the victims of the heinous crimes against the mosques of Christchurch in New Zealand and for their loved ones. France stands up against all forms of extremism and acts with its partners against terrorism in the world, “said Emmanuel Macron.
As a tribute to the victims, the Eiffel Tower will be extinguished at midnight, added the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.
The pope, “very saddened”, says his solidarity with Muslims
Pope Francis declared Friday “very saddened” by the “senseless acts of violence” against two mosques in New Zealand, expressing his “solidarity” with the Muslim community of the country.
“His holiness prays for the recovery of the wounded, the consolation of those who mourn the disappearance of dear ones, and for all those affected by this tragedy,” according to a telegram signed by Vatican number two, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Closed public buildings and curly schools
According to unconfirmed reports, the gunman wore military-style clothing.
Commissioner Bush explained that all schools in the city had been cordoned off.
Police have declared it a “critical incident”.
— 5Pillars (@5Pillarsuk) March 15, 2019
“The police are calling on everyone in the center of Christchurch not to go out on the street and report suspicious behavior.”
Public buildings such as the central library were also closed.
The municipality opened an emergency phone line for parents worried about the fate of their children, who were taking part in a march against climate change not far away.
“Do not try to pick up your children before the police say that people can get to the city center safely,” the municipality warned.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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