Wellington: A 28-year-old Australian man, one of the main suspects of the attack in New Zealand mosques, allegedly live-streamed 17-minute footage on Facebook which showed him shooting indiscriminately at a peaceful gathering in a mosque in Christchurch city on Friday.
Before the attack, the accused, who identified himself as Brenton Tarrant, had posted a 74-page manifesto on his social media account in which he expressed his support for far-right and anti-immigrant ideology. According to a leading daily, the authorities have not yet confirmed the author of the manifesto which contains the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, white-supremacist views and references to President Donald Trump. However, details from the manifesto reportedly suggested links between the suspect and the attack.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the suspected attacker as an “extremist right-wing violent terrorist”. Two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city were attacked by at least two gunmen, who were said to be right-wing extremists. The incident claimed the lives of at least 49 people, leaving 48 others injured.
As many as nine Indians were among those who had gone missing after the indiscriminate firing. A Hyderabadi man named Ahmed Jehangir from India was among those shot at in the horrific massacre. He was injured and taken to the hospital, said his brother Khursheed Iqbal Jehangir. Another man from Hyderabad named Farhaj Ahsan was reported as missing after he had gone to the same mosque for prayers.
A Sri Lankan Muslim named Hassan who has lived in New Zealand for six months said, “The shooter was screaming a lot and waving the gun in every direction, shooting, shooting, shooting.” The worried Hassan who had come to New Zealand for its peace, added, “I don’t know who of my friends is dead or alive now. I am waiting. The police told me: ‘I am sorry, this is the first time this has ever happened in this country’.”
Condemning the incident, countries across the world raised voice against hate crimes including Islamophobia. US President Donald Trump said, “My warmest sympathy and best wishes go out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the mosques. Forty-nine innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
The New Zealand Premier condemned the ideology of the killers, saying: “You may have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you.” None of the suspects was on terrorism watchlists.
After the terror attack, the New York City Police Department counterterrorism tweeted, “Our Counterterrorism officers are deployed throughout the city at various mosques & religious institutions in response to the New Zealand terror attack. Please do not be alarmed of the increased presence. We are working closely w/ the community to keep you safe.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, former US president Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders sent their messages of support to New Zealand.
(With Agency inputs)