New Zealand shootings: death toll climbs to 50 after another body found at mosque

A grab from the video posted on social media
A grab from the video posted on social media

New Zealand’s Police Commissioner said on Sunday the death toll from the twin mosque shootings is now at 50 a revised figure from 49 on Friday after investigators found another body at one of the mosques.

“It is with sadness that I advise that number of people who died in this event has now risen to 50. As of last night we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes. In doing so we were able to locate a further victim,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush told a news conference.

He added the number of injured his also risen to 50.

A suspected white supremacist was charged with murder for the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques on Friday, in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a “terrorist attack”.

A 28-year-old Australian suspect, identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, appeared in Christchurch district court on Saturday at 11:00 am local time.

Tarrant was charged with murder and was remanded without plea. He will return to court on April 5.

New Zealand Police wrote on Twitter: “While the man is currently facing only one charge, further charges will be laid.” Two others are currently in custody.

Funerals were planned for some of the victims on Saturday, some of which were immigrants.

READ MORE: New Zealand mosque shootings: what we know

The attacker live streamed footage of the attack on one of the mosques on Facebook and a “manifesto” was also posted online, denouncing immigrants and calling them “invaders”.

The footage, which lasted over 16 minutes, was posted on a page belonging to Brenton Tarrant but was quickly deleted by Facebook.

READ MORE: New Zealand shootings: Critics call out social media giants for not blocking extremist content

It appeared to have been filmed with a head camera and shows a man in combat gear driving to the Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch. After parking his vehicle, he picks up one of a number of rifles inside and walks to the mosque and starts shooting as he approaches the door.

The gunman’s video also showed red petrol canisters in the back of his car, along with weapons.

Tarrant was arrested in a car, which police said had improvised explosive devices.

“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 on Saturday.

Ardern added that Tarrant was a licensed gun owner who allegedly used five weapons, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns that were modified.

The Prime Minister pledged that the country’s gun laws would change, adding that a ban on semi-automatic weapons would be considered.

There are an estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand for a population of nearly five million. However, the country has maintained a low level of gun violence with Friday’s attack being the biggest mass shooting in the country’s recent history.

READ MORE: Christchurch shootings: World leaders react to deadly New Zealand mosque attacks

Suspect charged with murder

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that an Australian citizen with far-right extremist views was among those taken into custody.

The writer of the manifesto said he is 28 and Australian. The document, stretching to more than 16,000 words, rails against immigration and cites a list of events from various periods of history which inspired his self-acknowledged terrorist attack.

He also said that he decided to commit the murders following a trip to Europe in 2017 when he saw Emmanuel Macron triumph over his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections and saw people he believed were immigrants living in France.

He denied acting on behalf of a group.


1 reply

  1. It is ironic for Australians (and Americans) complaining about immigrants, as all Whites there are of course immigrants themselves. Should the native Australians now start shooting all Whites ? – With Australians I always wonder whether they are descendant of the prisoners or the jailers. The last Officer at an Australian Embassy I asked answered ‘no, Irish famine’.

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