New Zealand PM Vows to Change Gun Legislation After Christchurch Mosque Massacre

Australian Man Appears In Court On Murder Charge After Christchurch Attack

Feature: Terror suspect in New Zealand Christchurch mosques attack appears in court with heightened security - Xinhua |

The bodies of the victims had not yet been released to families because investigations were ongoing, but police were working as quickly as they could to do that, Bush said at a media conference in Wellington.

She said neither the gunmen nor the suspected accomplices were on any terrorist watchlist in New Zealand or Australia. Muslims account for just about one percent of New Zealand's population.

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year old Australian citizen and self-proclaimed white nationalist, was led by two armed guards into the court in Christchurch where a judge read one charge of murder to him.

Like most developed countries, New Zealand has far stricter gun laws than the United States, where more than 50 shootings involving more than one victim have already taken place this year. Thirty-six of those remain in Christchurch hospital, where they are being treated with the utmost care and professionalism by medical staff. And a young child who was in a children's hospital in Auckland was also listed as critical. "To see so many innocent lives taken so callously and cruelly in this place of sanctuary is totally unacceptable".

Vigil held in Vancouver for New Zealand mosque shooting victims
Vigil held in Vancouver for New Zealand mosque shooting victims

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Pacific Area Presidency also released a statement of support for Muslim communities and all others impacted by the Christchurch shootings.

"In these times of mourning and recollection, our common values, that of a Polynesian world that lives in fraternity and respect for everyone, will help us overcome this bad ordeal".

"The family understands that it's a crime scene". Police said further charges were expected to follow.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern held a series of meetings in Christchurch on Saturday to assure the Muslim community their safety was top priority.

At least three Bangladeshis among dead after Christchurch mosque shootings
She also confirmed that the shooting was a "terrorist attack ". "From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned". Police officers found weapons and improvised explosive devices in the cars of the people arrested.

As a light rain fell, people clutched each other and wept quietly. We wish this did not happen. We wish we knew your favorite song, what makes you smile, what makes you cry.

"You may have chosen us", Ardern said, addressing the suspect. "50 hearts for 50 lives".

Imran had dropped off his father, an electrical engineer, at the Al Noor mosque on Friday and was looking for a parking space when the shooting began.

Facebook, Twitter and Google scrambled to take down the gunman's video, which was widely available on social media for hours after the bloodbath.

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Muzzammil Pathan arrived to offer his condolences for a friend, Imran Khan, who was killed at a second mosque in the suburb of Linwood. New Zealand´s prime minister vowed to toughen the country´s gun laws after revealing on March 16 that the man accused of murdering 49 people in two mosques legally purchased the arsenal of firearms used in the massacre.

She said, "The mere fact... that this individual had acquired a gun licence and acquired weapons of that range, then obviously I think people will be seeking change, and I'm committing to that". Ardern suggested "now is the time for change" and hinted she was closely looking at rules regulating ownership of semi-automatic weapons.

The massacre during Friday prayers prompted a heartfelt response from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who pronounced it "one of New Zealand's darkest days" and said the shooter, an Australian native, had chosen to strike in New Zealand "because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion".

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