49 fall to terror bullets
A gunman shot dead 49 people and wounded more than 40 at two New Zealand mosques yesterday, some as they were kneeling at prayer, livestreaming online some of the killings in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called an assault on the nation’s values. The gunman broadcast footage of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch on Facebook, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a “manifesto” in which he denounced immigrants, calling them “invaders”. The video footage widely circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted live online as the attack unfolded, showed him driving to a mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside. Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay huddled on the floor, the video showed. It was the worst ever mass killing in New Zealand and the country raised its security threat level to the highest, Ardern said, adding, “This can now only be described as a terrorist attack.” Police said three people were in custody including one man in his late 20s who had been charged with murder. He will appear in court on Saturday. Police have identified none of the suspects. “We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are enclave for extremism,” Ardern said in a national address. “We were chosen for the fact that we are none of these things. It was because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values. “You have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you.” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said 49 people had been killed. Health authorities said 48 people were being treated for gunshot wounds, including young children. Leaders around the world expressed sorrow and disgust at the attacks, with some deploring attacks against Muslims. One man who said he was at the Al Noor mosque told media the gunman was white, blond and wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest. The man burst into the mosque as worshippers were kneeling for prayers. “He had a big gun...He came and started shooting everyone in the mosque, everywhere,” said the man, Ahmad Al Mahmoud. He said he and others escaped by breaking through a glass door. Forty-one people were killed at the Al Noor mosque, seven at a mosque in the Linwood neighbourhood and one died in hospital, police said. Hospitals said children were among the victims. Bahrain condemns attack Bahrain strongly condemned the mass shootings that targeted two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which resulted in the death and injury of dozens of people. The Foreign Ministry expressed deep condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured as a result of this heinous act of terrorism that contradicts all religious principles and human values. It affirmed support to New Zealand, in its relentless efforts to combat terrorism and preserve the security and safety of its citizens and residents. It stressed unequivocal stance against terrorism, extremism and violence, calling for concerted international efforts to eradicate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.