Tuesday 19 March 2019

'She got the bullet, her husband got away' - massacre at New Zealand mosques

A man talks on his mobile phone across the road from a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A man talks on his mobile phone across the road from a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Forty-nine people have been killed at two mosques after a right-wing extremist went on a shooting spree in New Zealand.

Brenton Tarrant (28) from Australia, appeared to have live-streamed the terror attack in Christchurch and outlined his anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto posted online.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The country's police commissioner, Mike Bush, said 49 people were confirmed dead and that a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder.

Among those who witnessed the horrific attacks was Nour Tavis.

He was in the front row of the Al Noor Mosque in Deans Ave with his friend when the shooting started.

"Then we heard screaming ... everyone panicked," he told the New Zealand Herald. "There was shooting and shooting and shooting ... people were running and all of a sudden you saw them fall."

Armed police patrol outside a mosque in central Christchurch (Mark Baker/AP)
Armed police patrol outside a mosque in central Christchurch (Mark Baker/AP)

Mr Tavis saw someone break a window and jump out, and he managed to do the same - running for cover as the atrocity continued inside the mosque.

A short time later he went back to the mosque to help people who had been shot.

"There were people bleeding to death ... it was terrible," he said.

Mr Tavis' friend lost his wife in the attack.

"When she heard the noise she wanted to go and make sure her husband was safe," he told the NZ Herald. "She got the bullet, her husband got away. She was gone, she was no more."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier said at least 40 other people had been seriously injured, and described it as "one of New Zealand's darkest days", adding: "What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."

She added: "It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack."

Mr Bush said the man charged with murder is expected to appear in court on Saturday morning.

A still image taken from video circulated on social media, apparently taken by gunman Brenton Tarrant and posted online live as the attack unfolded, shows him driving in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. Photo: Reuters
A still image taken from video circulated on social media, apparently taken by gunman Brenton Tarrant and posted online live as the attack unfolded, shows him driving in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. Photo: Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier said one of the people arrested was an Australian citizen, and described the suspected attacker as an "extremist right-wing violent terrorist".

In the video live-streamed by Tarrant, a man inside a mosque appears to say "Welcome brother" as a gunman approaches.

Mr Bush said three other people were apprehended, adding: "We believe one of those persons, who was armed and was at the scene, may have had nothing to do with this incident.

"And the two other people that have been apprehended, again in possession of firearms in the general environment, we are working through to understand what their involvement is.

"We have recovered a number of firearms from both of the scenes."

Mr Bush said the attack was a "very well-planned event".

Asked if the police were searching for any other suspects, he said: "We never assume that there aren't other people involved, that's why we've got an immense presence out there ... but we don't have named or identified people that we are looking for, but it would be wrong to assume that there is no-one else."

He added: "At this point we are not actively looking for any identified persons."

A number of improvised explosive devices found on a vehicle after the shootings were defused by police.

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