Death Toll in New Zealand Mosque Shootings Rises to 50

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Just one day after the deadly attacks that claimed the lives of 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the country's prime minister has declared that the government will be working toward gun law changes immediately.

In a statement posted online, Sunday, police said officers were continuing to work "closely and extensively with partners to identify the injured and deceased victims of the Christchurch attack".

The attack, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called terrorism, was the worst-ever peacetime mass killing in the nation's history and has raised the national security threat level to the highest.

The death toll in the New Zealand mosque shootings rose to 50 on Sunday after police found another victim at one of the mosques.

Commissioner Bush said that several others have been arrested in connection with the terror attack, although they do not yet face charges.

Following the horrendous massacre, a 28-year-old Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, has been charged with murder.

He was remanded in custody without entering a plea and is due to appear in court again on April 5.

A copy of the shooter's 16,000-word manifesto was sent to New Zealand's Prime Minister 10 minutes before the attack and has widely circulated throughout the public.

One man at the second mosque in the suburb of Linwood is being hailed as a hero for preventing further deaths by distracting and confronting the shooter.

"We know that there's been young Somalis that have lost their life, people of Turkish backgrounds that have been injured", he told NPR's Weekend Edition from the airport, on his way to Christchurch.

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Three others arrested afterwards are not believed to have been involved, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, but added that he could not be conclusive.

Officials in New Zealand are now carrying out the hard task of identifying those who died.

"I convey the message of love and support on behalf of New Zealand to all of you", she said. "People see a gun now and they freak out." says Anthony, who also condemned the attack.

Amid the sadness, there have also been tales of heroes such as Alabi Lateef and a fellow worshipper, who followed the 28-year-old Australian gunman to his auto and used a discarded rifle to smash the vehicle's back window.

Ms Ardern said the guns used by the attacker appeared to have been modified, and that the suspect's auto was full of weapons, suggesting "his intention to continue with his attack".

The employee said despite every other shop going into lockdown during the three-hour event, the doors of Gun City remained open.

Church services for victims of the attack were held around the country, including at Christchurch's "Cardboard Cathedral", a temporary structure built after much of the central city was destroyed in a 2011 quake.

Ardern said the suspect was a licensed gun owner who bought the five guns used in the crimes legally.

The country's gun laws are largely unchanged since 1992, when controls were tightened after the 1990 Aramoana massacre, in which a man killed 13 people with a semi-automatic rifle.

She said the attack had not happened because their country was a safe harbour for hate, or racism or extremism.




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