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Weapons used in Christchurch, NZ attack appear to have been modified: Ardern

17 March 2019
Weapons used in Christchurch, NZ attack appear to have been modified: Ardern

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

Seventeen minutes of terror has reshaped New Zealand - but more than 24 hours after the Christchurch mosque attacks its citizens are standing together.

Mass shootings and violent crime are rare in New Zealand, a country of almost 5 million people.

Leaders, organisations and the media around the world expressed disgust and sorrow at the killing of 49 people in shootings at two New Zealand mosques on Friday, attacks that many blamed on the demonisation of Muslims by the West.

Brenton Harris Tarrant, 28, has been charged with one count of murder, according to a court filing. He also had more assault weapons in the trunk of his vehicle, along with what appeared to be explosives.

Labelling the attack as an act of terrorism, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to reform the country's gun laws. "More importantly it was also about standing in solidarity in a small way to offer their love and support to the people of Christchurch".

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack", Ardern said.

Police said three people were in custody. One person was later released.

Ardern said New Zealand had been placed on its highest security threat level.

Owners of firearms in New Zealand are required to have a license but they are not required to register their firearms, unlike in Australia.

Police said Tarrant tried to evade arrest and did not surrender voluntarily.

The suspected gunman livestreamed video of the attack and posted a lengthy manifesto online under the name of Brenton Tarrant. Police Association President Chris Cahill backed tighter gun laws, saying the weapons used in the mosque shootings were banned in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 in which 35 people were gunned down.

She said: "New Zealanders will question how someone can come into being in possession of weapons of this nature".

"One leg of an injured needed to be amputated while another suffered bullet injuries in his chest", Rahman Bhuiyan said.

The gym's owner, Tracey Gray, described him as a hard-working trainer but said he appeared to have been changed by his travels in Europe and Asia - which social media posts suggested included trips as far afield as Pakistan and North Korea.

New Zealand mass murderer Tarrant A white supremacist who denounced immigrants as invaders
AOS push back members of the public following a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand Friday

"We are now dealing with an unprecedented situation in New Zealand". He said he then went into the mosque to try to help.

"Will I see my parents, my kids, my loved ones again or not?"

But Yasalar said there is no escaping the horrendous magnitude of the events in Christchurch. He said one was slightly injured.

I'd be lying if I were to say that I was shocked. But in these cases, where they are video-streaming it live, it just adds to the sickness of it.

He said the gunman was white and was wearing a helmet with some kind of device on top, giving him a military-type appearance.

1997: A lone shooter killed six people, including his father, and wounded four others in the ski-lodge hamlet of Raurimu.

At one point, he exits the mosque to rearm before going back inside to shoot more people. The song "Fire" by English rock band "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" blasts from the stereo, the singer yelling, "I am the god of hellfire!" as the gunman races from the scene. The singer bellows, "I am the god of hellfire!" and the gunman drives away.

In what appeared to be the worst attack against Muslims in a western country, witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children believed to be among those killed.

Tweeting his condolences to the victims, the vlogger wrote: "Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch". Another 48 people suffered gunshot wounds in the attacks.

Speaking from Christchurch, he said: "It's been like an adrenaline rush all day". Still, public debatebegan growing late a year ago about re-examining the country's firearms laws. Ardern, whose party campaigned on the promise of raising the intake of refugees, called the planned increase "the right thing to do".

That number has grown consistently throughout the years, with New Zealand reporting only 1.3 million such firms in 2016, 1.2 million in 2009 and less than a million in 2005. Sometimes called the garden city, it has been rebuilding since an natural disaster in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed many downtown buildings.

"I am so sorry that you were not safe here".

Mass shootings in New Zealand are rare.

Perry reported from Wellington.