New Zealand mourns massacre victims as tales of heroism, tragedy emerge

New Zealand mourns massacre victims as tales of heroism, tragedy emerge

The attacks in two mosques in central Christchurch killed at least 49 people and injured 48 others.

The death toll of the Christchurch terror attacks has risen to 50, and two injured victims remained in critical condition, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Sunday morning.

An overwhelmed hospital was forced to delay surgeries as it struggled to cope with the sheer number of wounded.

A stream of victims' friends and relatives entered, one woman carrying sandwiches and falafel.

As Christchurch's Muslim community reels from a devastating attack, city officials ordered digging of graves for the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in the country's modern history. The attack on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques has prompted an outpouring of grief and deep shock in this usually peaceful coun.

Ms Ardern said he was being held in a specialist security facility.

Her father, who was also shot, recently emigrated to New Zealand from Jordan.

"We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement to People.

President Donald Trump, who has a record of Islamophobic rhetoric, online behavior and policies, tweeted out his "warmest sympathy and best wishes" to the people of New Zealand.

They included Asif Shaikh, 44, who said he was among more than 100 people at the Al Noor mosque when the attacker came in.

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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".

Islamic custom dictates that the deceased should be buried within 24 hours, but authorities said the complex investigation into the massacre of 50 worshippers during Friday prayers made a quick process hard.

"We have had these guns available for a long time and we very rarely have a situation like this". "That obviously leads to an Australian-based investigation and all of our inquiries here will be absolutely shared and communicated with New Zealand authorities".

A worshipper was pictured inconsolably wandering with his tunic turned red in the street outside the Linwood Avenue mosque. He was hoping semi-automatics were not banned, but he and his shooting friends were buying the weapons, which can cost anything from NZ$600 (US$400) upwards.

New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, has relatively loose gun laws and an estimated 1.5 million firearms, or roughly one for every three people.

Ardern said Tarrant was a licensed gun owner who allegedly used five weapons, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns, which had been modified.

"Our gun laws will change".

Tarrant lived in Dunedin, on New Zealand's South Island, and was a member of the Bruce Rifle Club, according to media reports which quoted club members saying he often practiced shooting an AR-15, which is a lightweight semi-automatic rifle.

The violence has also shone a new light on gun control.

He remains the only person charged directly over last Friday's shooting massacres.

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