Victims rise to 50 in Christchurch mosque attacks, 1 suspect left

Joann Johnston
March 17, 2019

Police say they will continue guarding mosques around the country until further notice.

"The man in the vehicle has been charged with firearms offences".

Church services for victims of the attack were held around the country, including at Christchurch's "Cardboard Cathedral", a temporary structure built after much of the central city was destroyed in a 2011 natural disaster.

In it, he identified himself as Tarrant and said he was a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush also said that 36 people are still hospitalized and that two of them are in critical condition.

The court was closed to the public over safety concerns, however a number of people gathered outside ahead of his appearance, including a man who told reporters his father was one of the victims. A couple apprehended at a cordon for carrying firearms not believe to be involved in the attacks, Bush said.

A fourth person taken into custody has since been released.

Police officials said they understand the religious duty of the Islamic faith to bury the deceased as soon as possible and are "working closely with the Chief Coroner to do everything possible to expedite the process".

"We have to be absolutely clear on cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen", he said.

The youngest person missing and feared dead is three years old, Greenhill tells NPR's Weekend Edition.

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New Zealand has raised its security threat level to the highest. Helicopters have been hovering overhead in Christchurch since, while heavily-armed officers patrol streets.

Tarrant was remanded into custody and is expected to appear in court again on April 5.

Tarrant is accused of murdering a man, whose name was suppressed by Judge Paul Kellar on grounds of undue hardship to his family, according to reports.

'Just 24 hours after the Christchurch shooting New Zealand bans semiautomatic guns!' she wrote in reference to New Zealand Attorney General David Parker's comments about banning the controversial weapons.

When asked what he thought of the prime minister suggesting there should be a change in New Zealand's gun laws, the police commissioner said he was "happy to hear" that.

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

Australian police say the family of Tarrant is helping their investigation.

Ardern called on the US government to show "sympathy and love for all Muslim communities", and told the press that "the person who has committed this violent act has no place here".

TESSA BURROWS via Getty ImagesResidents pay respect by placing flowers for the victims of the mosques attacks in Christchurch on Saturday.

"If this evil thinks we will stop going to our mosque here or stop doing our worship to our god, Allah, we can not ever stop", Linwood mosque Imam Ibrahim Abdelhalim said.

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