Heartbroken New Zealanders mourn victims lost to Christchurch mass shooting

Joann Johnston
March 17, 2019

Kiwis stand united in our love and support for our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.

Bush said that heightened security around mosques in New Zealand will continue until authorities determine there is no longer a threat.

Kuwait-born Atta Elayyan, a 33-year-old tech industry professional, who has recently become a father is also among the dead. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Huang Yan, the manager of the Christchurch branch of China's Southern Airlines, told Xinhua the mass shooting would bring negative impact on New Zealand tourism as Christchurch has just been recovered from the aftermath of the 2011 deadly natural disaster.

Police also arrested an 18-year-old man as a result of their preliminary investigation into the attack.

US President Donald Trump, who condemned the attack as a "horrible massacre", was praised by the accused gunman in a manifesto posted online as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose".

Thirty-four people were still in Christchurch Hospital with 12 in critical condition and one child was moved to dedicated children's hospital in Auckland.

They included Asif Shaikh, 44, who said he was among more than 100 people at the Al Noor mosque when the attacker came in.

"Family friends that we've known for 19 years - dead".

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the body of the 50th victim was found at the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 people died after a gunman entered and shot randomly at people with a semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines, before travelling to a second mosque to do the same.

Nearby, Akhtar Khokhur leaned on the shoulders of her friend and cried as she held up her cellphone with an image of her husband.

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Mr Bush said police, pathologists and coroners were working to ensure families could claim their loved ones as soon as possible. While known for having more moderate politics, New Zealand has relatively lax gun laws in comparison with its larger neighbour.

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"I want to give assurances that [if it had] provided details that could have been acted upon immediately, it would have been", she said. "We pray for all New Zealanders and our muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world". The couple was due to fly out Sunday.

Police Association President Chris Cahill backed tighter gun laws, saying the weapons used in the mosque shootings were banned in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 in which 35 people were gunned down. They have not heard from him since.

People gather at a vigil to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., March 15, 2019.

At a roadblock outside the Al Noor mosque on Sunday, about 40 people were standing in silence near scores of bunches of flowers.

So far, local reports and statements from officials confirmed that at least 6 Pakistani, 6 Palestinian, 5 Indian and 4 Egyptian nationals have either lost their lives or are still missing as well as several others with a wide array of backgrounds.

The video, which was live-streamed on Facebook, has since been removed from the platform.

"By the time we were advised of that email, the attack had taken place".

"I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change", Ardern said adding that a ban on semi-automatic weapons would be considered. He also had more assault weapons in the trunk of his auto, along with what appeared to be explosives.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said many of those "directly affected by this shooting may have been migrants to New Zealand" or even refugees. Police said further charges were expected to follow.

The 28-year-old suspected gunman appeared in court on Saturday and was charged with murder. Bush said he will appear in New Zealand's high court in early April.

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