Mass Shootings at New Zealand Mosques Kill 49; One Man Charged

Armed police patrol outside a mosque in central Christchurch New Zealand

Mass Shootings at New Zealand Mosques Kill 49; One Man Charged

Forty-nine people have been shot dead and 20 injured in shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during Friday afternoon prayers.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared in court Saturday morning amid strict security and showed no emotion when the judge read him one murder charge. One of the shooters had livestreamed the attack online and had said, "Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie".

In 2010 and 2011 the city suffered a series of devastating earthquakes, with the most destructive at 6.3 magnitude, which killed almost 200 people and destroyed thousands of buildings. In a statement he said: "Our hearts go out to the people of New Zealand following the news of this bad act in Christchurch".

In a 74-page manifesto, believed to have been written by Tarrant, he describes anti-immigrant motives, saying the victims were a "large group of invaders" who he says "seek to occupy my peoples lands and ethnically replace my own people (sic)".

"They have absolutely no place in New Zealand and, in fact, no place in the world", Ardern said.

He adds: "I am just a regular white man, from a regular family".

One of the four apprehended at the scene was in possession of firearms but police said they may have had nothing to do with incident. The gunman spends more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying terrified worshippers with bullets again and again, sometimes re-firing at people he has already cut down.

In the aftermath, the country's threat level was raised from low to high, police warned Muslims against going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand, and the national airline canceled several flights in and out of Christchurch, a city of almost 400,000. "Two explosive devices attached to suspects' vehicles have been found and they have been disarmed".

The two mosques are about five kilometres apart. It is the second most-populous city in New Zealand behind Auckland and Wellington.

Ardern said New Zealand was not a target because it is a safe harbour of those who hate, nor because New Zealand condones racism or is an enclave for racism. "I saw lots of broken glass and bricks on the backside of the mosque", he said. He said he was not a member of any organization, but had donated to and interacted with many nationalist groups, though he acted alone and no group ordered the attack.

Last year, New Zealand's prime minister announced that the country would boost its annual refugee quota from 1,000 to 1,500 in 2020.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh cricket team's tour of New Zealand has been called off in the wake of the attack.

The massacres took place from 1.40pm this afternoon at the Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Masjid mosques. Sometimes called the garden city, it has been rebuilding since an natural disaster in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed many downtown buildings. "Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers".

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