Wellington, Mar 15: At least 49 were killed and over 30 injured after a terrorist opened fire on Friday prayers at two mosques in New Zealand killing many worshippers and forcing the city of Christchurch into lockdown as police launched a massive manhunt.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that the gunman is a citizen of his country. He also called the shooter an “extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.
A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings said in a manifesto that he was a 28-year-old white Australian who came to New Zealand only to plan and train for the attack.
Police said multiple fatalities had occurred at two mosques, but they’re not aware of other suspects beyond the four who have been arrested after two mosque shootings but they can’t be certain.
Video footage widely circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, showed him driving to one mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.
Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay huddled on the floor of the mosque, the video showed.
Witnesses told media that a man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle had started randomly shooting people in the Al Noor mosque.
The Bangladesh cricket team was arriving for Friday prayers when the shooting occurred but all members were safe, a team coach told Reuters.
New Zealand’s Police Commissioner Mike Bush said “as far as we know” multiple fatalities occurred at two mosques. Police had one person in custody but they were not sure if others were involved, and people should stay away from mosques.
Police said earlier they were hunting “an active shooter” in the centre of Christchurch city.
“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”
The online video footage appeared to have been captured on a camera strapped to the gunman’s head.
After parking his vehicle he took two guns and walked a short distance to the entrance of the mosque.
He then opened fire. Over the course of five minutes, he repeatedly shoots worshippers, leaving well over a dozen bodies in one room alone. He returned to the car during that period to change guns, and went back to the mosque to shoot anyone showing signs of life.
Police said the second mosque attacked was in the suburb of Linwood.
All Christchurch schools and council buildings were placed into lockdown.
Radio New Zealand quoted a witness inside the Al Noor mosque saying he heard shots fired and at least four people were lying on the ground and “there was blood everywhere”.
“Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred,” said Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch.
The Bangladesh cricket team is in Christchurch to play New Zealand in a third cricket test starting on Saturday.
“They were on the bus, which was just pulling up to the mosque when the shooting begun,” Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach of the Bangladesh cricket team, told Reuters in a message.
The third cricket test was cancelled, New Zealand Cricket said later.
Muslims account for just over 1 per cent of New Zealand’s population, a 2013 census showed.
“Many of those who would have been affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand,” Ardern said.
“They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home and it is their home … they are us. The persons who has perpetuated this violence against us … have no place in New Zealand.” (Agencies)
PM Modi condemns, writes to country’s premiere
Monitor News Desk
New Delhi, Mar 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the world leaders to condemn the mindless shootings in mosques of New Zealand’s Christchurch on Friday.
The shootings led to death of 49 people while many others were hurt.
In a letter to PM of New Zealand, Prime Minister Modi stressed India’s strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
He added that condemnation is also of all those who support such acts of violence.
PM Modi stressed that hatred and violence have no place in diverse and democratic societies.
Attack reaffirms terrorism has no religion: Imran
Monitor News Desk
Islamabad, Mar 15: Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan has strongly condemned the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch killing at least 49 people and injuring scores others.
While taking to his Twitter, he said, “Shocked and strongly condemn the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack on mosques. This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families.”
Mirwaiz expresses shock, says humanity has become a casualty
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Mar 15: Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday expressed shock over the twin mosques terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“Shocked and Deeply grieved by the barbaric attack at twin mosques in #Christchurch New Zealand. Multiple fatalities feared. Once again Humanity becomes a casualty. Condemnation beyond words. prayers for the victims (sic),” Mirwaiz said on Twitter.
Faesal to give LS polls a miss
On JKLF ban: Won’t be surprised if mainstream parties are banned too
Srinagar, Mar 23: Bureaucrat turned politician, Shah Faesal Saturday said that his newly launched party ‘Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM’ won’t contest the upcoming Parliamentary polls.
Addressing a press conference at the Srinagar’s Press Club, Faesal said that his party was at an “advanced stage”.
“We decided not to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. People across the state are joining us. We don’t want to participate hurriedly in polls and instead will strengthen our party for assembly polls,” Faesal said.
Reacting over Government of India’s banning Yasin Malik’s Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Faesal said that he won’t be surprised even if mainstream parties are banned too.
He added that banning of JKLF would “further shrink” democratic space. “I will not be surprised even if mainstream parties are too banned here. There are people who brought these forces here who wanted to change the secular fabric,” he said.
Lawyer Iqbar Tahir and journalist Chasfeeda Shah also joined the party on the occasion.
“Our decision not to contest Lok Sabha polls is a response to those who accused that our party was planted by the Centre for electoral manipulation. We are fighting for a longer run but not for government and power,” he said.
Asked which party JKPM would support in upcoming Lok Sabha polls, he replied, “We will tell you that later. Democracy is important institution and people shall participate in polls. Assembly elections are very critical for our state.”
Faesal last Sunday launched the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement, with a promise to “bridge the distance between New Delhi and Islamabad in order to resolve the Kashmir dispute”.
Condemning the custodial killing of Awantipora youth, Faesal demanded that those responsible for his “killing” shall be arrested. “Judicial enquiry shall also be conducted to unveil the facts,” he said.
The death of Rizwan Pandit in police custody has spawned huge shock and anger in Kashmir.
Preliminary post-mortem findings have suggested that “profuse bleeding resulting from multiple injuries” could have caused the death that triggered massive protests in Kashmir.
Faesal, who quit the services in January this year to protests against “unabated killings” in Kashmir condemned the killing of 12-year-old boy of Hajin before being held hostage. “Human rights violations have to be stopped,” he said.
He asked the politicians of South Asia to take a cue from New Zealand Prime Minister for safeguarding the rights of minorities in her country. “She has received appreciations from across the world and set up an example,” Faesal said.
New Zealand Prime Minister has expressed solidarity with Muslims after a terror attack in mosque.
LS Polls: Mehbooba to contest from South, Aga Mohsin Srinagar
Srinagar, Mar 23: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday announced its candidates for some Lok Sabha constituencies while as the party has decided not to field any candidate from two Jammu constituencies to ensure the votes are not divided.
Addressing a press conference, party president Mehbooba Mufti said that she will contest the upcoming parliamentary elections from South Kashmir constituency.
She added that the party has decided to field its leader Aga Mohsin from Srinagar constituency.
Notably, the party has already announced its candidate for the Baramulla constituency, Abdul Qayoom Wani who has also filed nomination papers for the polls.
Mehbooba further informed that party has decided not to announce its candidate for Jammu-Udhampur and Doda-Rajouri constituencies in the interests of people. “We don’t want the votes to get divided that would ensure the win of people other than secular forces,” she said.
She also added that the decision for Ladakh parliamentary seats will be taken soon.
About ban on JKLF, Mehbooba said that Kashmiris are once again being used as ‘scapegoats’ on the pretext of elections. “In democracy, there is battle of ideas and such kind of things should not happen. Every voice should be fought politically rather than suppression and oppression,” she added.
PDP chief further stated that people here are being pushed to the walls and violence that must come to an end at an earliest.
Warpora encounter: Slain militant duo affiliated with JeM
Srinagar, Mar 23: Two militants killed in over 30 hour encounter with Government forces at Warpora area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district have been identified as members of Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit and one of them has been identified as a local resident.
SSP Sopore Javid Iqbal was quoted saying by news agency GNS that the bodies of both the militants were recovered from the encounter site Saturday afternoon and one of them has been identified as Tahir Ahmad War alias Tahir Molvi of Warpora.
“We called his family and they identified him as their kin,” the SSP said, adding that body has been handed over to the family.
Tahir, he said, was active from June last year. The identity of other militant, believed to be a foreigner, was yet to be established.
Reports reaching here said that the residential house of Mohd Maqbool Najar, where the militants were hiding, was initially razed to rubble. During the course of the gunfight, three more residential houses of Akbar War, Ramzan War and Showkat Ahmad Najar were completely damaged.
Following the gunfight, clashes between youth and forces also reported near the encounter site and main town Sopore.
The encounter broke out at Mir Mohalla area of Warpora Sopore after a joint team of Army’s 22 RR, special operation group of police and CRPF launched a cordon and search operation in the area on Thursday morning.
Station House Officer (SHO) and his two security guards were injured near the encounter site on Friday.
Police has registered a case and initiated investigation in the gunfight.
“Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. Citizens are requested not to venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials,” a spokesman of police said