Shootings reported at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

Joann Johnston
March 16, 2019

Police in New Zealand said there were "multiple fatalities" following shootings at two mosques in Christchurch and said they had one suspect in custody. The national public broadcaster Radio New Zealand quoted an eyewitness who said, "There was blood everywhere".

"However another absolute focus for us is to ensure that the victims of this attack, including family members and loved ones of those killed and injured, have the best possible structures in place to provide support and welfare".

An Australian man in his 20s has been charged with murder and is due to appear in court on Saturday.

Four people were arrested following the attack and one was subsequently released.

Mass shootings, and violent crime in general, are rare in New Zealand, a country of almost 5 million people.

Authorities said they were unable to confirm fatalities, but the scale of the bloodshed appeared to be vast.

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The national reaction to the deadly shooting in Aramoana in 1990, prompted a call for tighter gun restrictions that was established in 1992.

People pay their respects at the memorial service held at the Port Arthur historic site for the 35 victims of the Port Arthur massacre, May 19, 1996.

There are about 1.5 million privately owned firearms in New Zealand, according to the most recent from 2017 data by GunPolicy.org, a global database compiled by the University of Sydney.

By comparison, there have been 2,740 gun deaths in the United States in the first two and a half months of this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

"He very much wished for his condolences to be passed on to New Zealand", said Ardern.

Ranstorp said Tarrant's document is shorter and "more sloppy" than the one written by the Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011.

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