Main Suspect in New Zealand Terror Attack Intended to Continue Rampage

Published March 16th, 2019 - 08:57 GMT
People pay their respects in front of floral tributes for victims of the March 15 mosque attacks, in Christchurch (AFP)
People pay their respects in front of floral tributes for victims of the March 15 mosque attacks, in Christchurch (AFP)

The main suspect in New Zealand's worst peacetime mass shooting intended to continue the rampage before he was caught by police, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday.

The statement came as the New Zealand prime minister arrived in Christchurch where she is due to visit victims in local hospitals

"The offender was mobile, there were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in, and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack," Ardern told reporters in Christchurch.

She added that 28-year-old suspect of Friday's carnage, Brenton Harrison Tarrant who has already been charged with murder, will likely face further charges.

"I'm not privileged to a full breakdown at this point but it is clear that young children have been caught up in this horrific attack," she said regarding victims of the attack.

Ardern also vowed to toughen the country's gun laws after revealing the alleged shooter behind Christchurch's mosque attacks had legally bought the five weapons, including two semi-automatic rifles, used in the massacre.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh's cricket team left New Zealand on Saturday, less than 24 hours after narrowly avoiding being involved in the worst mass shooting in the country.

New Zealand will now have to accept that sporting events were likely to have been changed for ever.

The imam, who was leading prayers at one of the Christchurch mosques that was attacked, said that the Muslim community's love for New Zealand would not be shaken by the massacre.

"We still love this country," said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, imam of Linwood Mosque, vowing that such incidents would "never ever touch our confidence."

He said the majority of New Zealanders "are very keen to support all of us, to give us full solidarity", describing how strangers exchanged hugs with him on Saturday.

"They start to... give me big hug, and give me more solidarity. This is something very important."

New Zealand terror attack suspect who filmed himself rampaging through two mosques in Christchurch killing 49 worshippers appeared in court on a murder charge Saturday.

Australian-born terrorist appeared in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, sitting impassively as the judge read a single murder charge against him. A raft of further charges are expected.

Self-professed fascist occasionally turned to look and smirked at media present in court during the brief hearing that was held behind closed doors for security reasons.

He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance scheduled for April 5.

 

At least 49 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

The terrorist was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned terrorist attack in Christchurch city. Police also defused explosive devices in a car.

Forty-two people are still being treated in hospital for injuries, including a four-year-old child, New Zealand health authorities said.

Wounds range from minor to critical, they said.

The suspect who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for the attack.

He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist.

Police also took three men and a woman into custody after the shootings, which shocked people across the nation of five million people. 

Police later said one of the arrests didn't relate to the shootings.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand had been placed on its highest security threat level. 

The prime minister said the events in Christchurch represented "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" and acknowledged many of those affected may be migrants and refugees.

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," she said. 

"From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned."

About 41 people were killed at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1:45 pm [local time], and the rest were killed in a second shooting at the Linwood Masjid Mosque.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that an Australian citizen was arrested in New Zealand's mosque shootings. He called the attacker an "extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist."

New Zealand police lifted a city-wide lockdown that was imposed in Christchurch after the attacks.

New Zealand's Police Commissioner Mike Bush said a number of IEDs that were attached to vehicles were found and made safe by their defence force.

Witnesses told media that a man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle had started randomly shooting people in the Al Noor mosque. 

He had livestreamed the shooting on Facebook.

Meanwhile, the third cricket test between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been cancelled in the wake of the shooting. 

The visiting Bangladesh cricket team narrowly avoided the shooting after arriving at the mosque for prayers.

New Zealand Cricket said they had decided to cancel the test, which was scheduled to start at Hagley Oval on Saturday, after discussions with the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

A witness described the sound of gunfire breaking out just as the prayer leader began his sermon at a mosque.

Radio New Zealand quoted a witness inside the mosque saying he heard shots fired and at least four people were lying on the ground and "there was blood everywhere".

"Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred," said Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch.

Prosecutors in Bulgaria launched a probe into a recent visit to the country by the terrorist behind the attack.

He visited Bulgaria from November 9-15 last year claiming he wanted "to visit historical sites and study the history of the Balkan country", Bulgaria's public prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said, adding that the inquiry would establish if this was "correct or if he had other objectives."

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand's population, a 2013 census showed.

Christchurch is home to nearly 400,000 people and is sometimes called the Garden City. It has been rebuilding since an earthquake in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed many downtown buildings.

Before Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history took place in the small town of Aramoana in 1990, when a gunman killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbour.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


Copyright © 2019 TRT World

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