Several Indians missing after shooting in New Zealand mosques

March 16, 2019
NEW DELHI: Nine Indians are reported missing after the mosque attacks in New Zealand. The Ministry of External Affairs has put out a notification: "Our Mission is in touch with local authorities to ascertain more details. It is a sensitive matter and therefore we can't give confirmed numbers/names till we are absolutely certain."

Forty nine people were killed and dozens of others were injured in the shootings by right extremists in two mosques, one in Christchurch and the other in Linwood suburb, where Muslim worshippers had congregated for Friday prayers, in an otherwise peaceful New Zealand, in south Pacific.

Twenty-eight-year old Australia-born Brenton Tarrant who lived in Dunedin, New Zealand, and three others, including a woman, have been arrested. Brenton Tarrant was produced in the court on Saturday and charged with murders. The suspect did not seek bail and the next hearing was fixed for April 5.

Brenton Tarrant is a former fitness instructor and said to be a white supremacist harbouring strong anti-immigrant sentiments.

Five guns were used and he had a gun licence of 2017. Most of the killings were at the Al Noor mosque in the city where the toll was 41, and the rest at the mosque in suburban Linwood. There are 48 patients with gunshot wounds undergoing treatment at Christchurch Hospital.

The imam had just started his sermon when the shooting started. “It was very peaceful, calm and quiet, as it is when the sermon starts, you could hear a pin drop. Then suddenly the shooting started. It started in the main room Deans Ave mosque, an eyewitness said.

Mahmood Nassir, a witness, told the Associated Press that people inside the mosque jumped fences, hid under cars and ran to the back doors to save themselves.

The Bangladesh cricket team, comprising 17 players and staff, which had arrived there earlier had a narrow escape. They had alighted from their bus to go in and were just 50 mts away when the shooting began.

In live streaming online, with a camera mounted most likely on his body, the attacker is seen coming out of his car with a rifle, going in and raining bullets on the worshippers.

In a 74-page manifesto released prior to the massacre, the shooter had praised US President Donald Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose" and also Anders Breivik, Norwegian white supremacist who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011, with whom he had contact.

The suspect reportedly said he chose New Zealand to show that even the most remote parts of the world are "immigrated."

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said four people were arrested. “There were a number of IEDs attached to vehicles that we stopped," he told newsmen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the "loss of innocent lives" in a note written to his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted: "I'm saddened & strongly condemn the shooting of innocent people as they prayed peacefully in mosques in New Zealand. I express my deepest condolences to the victims' families. Today and every day, we must stand united against anti-Muslim hatred, & all forms of bigotry & terror."

US President Donald Trump tweeted: "My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 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!"

Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand's Head of State, said in a message, "I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch... At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives."

New Zealand had tightened its laws on semi-automatic rifles in 1992 after a freak incident of shooting earlier. Jacinda Ardern suspected anti-immigrant feelings as cause of the attacks. She vowed to change the gun licence rules further.

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