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'Horror and sorrow': U of T reacts to attack on Christchurch mosque

16 March 2019

Wearing a black scarf over her head, Ardern hugged members of the Muslim community at a Christchurch refugee centre, saying she would ensure freedom on religion in New Zealand.

Hours after dozens of people were shot dead at two mosques in Christchurch, witnesses described how a young mosque worker risked his life as he tried to apprehend the gunman. "Many of the people require multiple trips to the theatre to deal with the complex series of injuries they have", said Christchurch Hospital's Chief of Surgery Greg Robertson.

Speaking on Saturday in Christchurch, New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the suspect charged over the killings meant to "continue with his attack" when he was intercepted by police. Police also defused explosive devices in a vehicle.

Ardern said that investigators are working to determine whether two others who were taken into custody in relation to the massacre were directly involved.

Labelling the attack as an act of terrorism, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to reform the country's gun laws.

New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, has relatively loose gun laws and an estimated 1.5 million firearms, or roughly one for every three people. One person was later released. Following the attack, New Zealand's national security level was changed from "low" to "high".

The last comparable mass shooting in New Zealand was nearly three decades ago, and the annual murder rate is usually around 50 people for the entire country.

Tarrant was not known to the authorities, Bush said, and had no previous convictions.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of the men in custody was Australian.

"Indonesia strongly condemns this shooting act, especially at a place of worship while a Friday prayer was ongoing", Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a statement. He has been charged with murder, though police said they expect further charges to be laid. Such violence, he says, is "being almost endorsed by political rhetoric around banning immigration of Muslims and criminalizing refugees".

Outside one of the two mosques, 32-year-old Ash Mohammed pushed through police barricades in hopes of finding out what happened to his father and two brothers, whose cellphones rang unanswered.

Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found in a vehicle and neutralised by the military, while police raided a home in the southern city of Dunedin, where Ms Ardern said the suspect was based.

Authorities said 49 people were murdered in the attack. Ardern said some of the guns had been modified to make them deadlier. Later in the day, it emerged that he used five guns in Friday's attack, including two shotguns and two semi-automatic weapons. He said he then went into the mosque to try to help. "People who were there for my engagement - dead", Ali told the news outlet. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sufian Qudah had earlier said that a Jordanian man was killed and eight others were wounded. "I don't understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone".

"For once, the person that will be called a fascist, is an actual fascist, I am sure the journalists will love that", he wrote. He said one was slightly injured.

"My children live here" he said, adding, "we are happy". Two mosques were targeted in the attack. Children's screams can be heard in the distance as he returns to his auto to get another rifle.

At one point, he exits the mosque to rearm before going back inside to shoot more people.

The mass shooting was dubbed as being "worse than the Port Arthur Massacre".

'Horror and sorrow': U of T reacts to attack on Christchurch mosque