The attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand claimed 49 lives, the police commissioner confirmed. Four people were taken into custody, three men and one woman, in connection with the attack but only one has been charged with murder so far. It has been confirmed that all four held extremist views but were not on any police watchlists.
One of the gunmen identified himself on social media as a 28-year-old Australian named Brenton Tarrant, who livestreamed himself while shooting worshippers. He described himself as a “regular White man” who comes from a low-income working-class family and had “a regular childhood.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that an Australian national was among the detained suspects.
The man used a GoPro to livestream the attack on the Al Noor Mosque. The footage was promptly removed by Facebook at the request of police, but parts of it were published by local media. The POV-style video showed the gunman driving up to the mosque and taking firearms out of the trunk of his car.
The weapons contained inscriptions referencing famous European battles against Muslims and neo-Nazi slogans. One of the battles referenced is the 1683 Battle of Vienna against the Ottoman Empire.
The man’s social media account has since been blocked.
Shortly before the attack, he published a 73-page ‘manifesto’ in which he vowed “revenge” against Muslim “invaders.”
He apparently picked the particular mosque to attack because a church once stood at the same place. He also mentioned a 2017 terrorist attack in Stockholm where five people died. One of them was an 11-year-old girl, who the shooter wrote he would avenge.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed that the death toll in the Christchurch mosque attacks has risen to 49 people.
Bush confirmed that a further 20 people were injured in what is now the worst ever mass shooting in New Zealand history. Some 40 people were taken to hospital but it was not targeted in the attack, contrary to rumors online.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. In the aftermath of the attacks, New Zealand has been placed on its highest security threat level according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.