'Heartfelt grief and sorrow' - Pacific pledges solidarity after Christchurch after mosque attacks

49 Dead In 'Terrorist Attack' At 2 Mosques In Christchurch, New Zealand

People wait outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019.

Within hours of the brutal massacre of Muslim congregations gathered for Friday prayers at two mosques in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated that "it is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack", a charge that echoed in the statements of condemnation that have since poured in from many Western leaders. They include a 28-year-old man who was charged with murder and was due to appear in court Saturday.

The attack has been condemned across the globe, with leaders from Pakistan, Turkey, Britain, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Japan and the European Union sending their condolences and offering support to New Zealand.

The white supremacist suspected of killing 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch flashed a "white power" symbol as he appeared in court charged with murder.

By the time the rampage was over, the gunman had killed 41 people.

"I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11", Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan posted on social media.

"My dad is a real hero", Sami's daughter, Heba, told Gulf News on Friday. "They shot them until they died".

Muhammad Afzal Mirza, imam of the Bait Ul Islam Mosque, led Friday morning prayers there. He said he then went into the mosque to try to help.

Law enforcement officials in other cities across the country, including NY and Los Angeles, have also said they are increasing security forces at mosques in response to the shooting. "And those values, I can assure you, will not, and cannot, be shaken by this attack".

Footage of the attack on one of the mosques was broadcast live on Facebook, and a "manifesto" denouncing immigrants as "invaders" was also posted online via links to related social media accounts. "This is a problem of extremism. And now a mosque was attacked and it is painful".

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The two others were still being questioned.

Shafiqur Rahman Bhuiyan, honorary consul for Bangladesh in Auckland, told the AP that at least three Bangladeshis were among those killed in the attack, and others were wounded.

The Herald later quoted one of the witnesses from Lindwood, Syed Mazharuddin, who said that the gunman was confronted by a mosque caretaker, who wrestled one of his guns away but did not shoot because he "couldn't find the trigger". The other two remain in custody. Hospital officials said some of the wounded were in a critical condition.

"I was recently united with my son, who has a gunshot wound to the leg and backside", she wrote.

The shooting was live-streamed on Facebook, with the suspect killing 49 people and wounding more than 40 at two mosques before getting arrested by police. If the shooting had started mid-prayer, he said, he thinks the death toll would have been higher. Now is the time for change.

"You may have chosen us", Ardern said Friday, "but we utterly reject and condemn you".

New Zealand law enforcement is working with Australian intelligence and police in the "wide-reaching" investigation, the commissioner said. "Call it out in our communities, in our societies, in our families, in our friendships, in our workplaces", said Hussen.

A neighbour in Morrison Street, Grafton, where he grew up, recalls an affable young man who was "friendly enough but very quiet".

Ehalt said Saskatoon police have not received any reports of anti-Muslim activity.

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