Christchurch was ‘lone wolf’ attack

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Christchurch, March 17 (IANS) The man charged for Friday’s twin mosque attacks in this New Zealand city is believed to have acted alone. Three others arrested were not involved, police said.

However, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said this were not yet completely conclusive.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a self-described white supremacist, live-streamed the attack on Facebook as he killed 50 and injured 50 more in what is New Zealand’s worst attack, the BBC reported.

Some 34 people continue to be treatment for injuries ranging from severe gunshot wounds to “relatively superficial soft tissue injuries”, authorities said.

With the most critical being a four-year-old girl.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that cabinet meetings would take place on Monday to discuss issues including gun policy reform. “There will be changes to our gun laws,” she said. She added that parliament would pay tribute to victims in the house on Tuesday.

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Ardern said she expected the bodies of all those killed to be returned to their families by Wednesday.

She also said that “there are further questions to be answered” regarding the role of social media sites such as Facebook, which was used to broadcast live footage of the attacks. “These social media platforms have a wide reach, and this is a problem that goes way beyond New Zealand,” she said.

Meanwhile, Facebook has said that as many as 1.5 million videos of the attack were removed from its platform in the first 24 hours. It said it was also removing “all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content”.

“In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload…,” fbnewsroom said.

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Ardern confirmed that her office had received a document from the suspect nine minutes before the attacks began, but that it did not contain any specific details, such as a location. She said it was forwarded to the security services within two minutes.

Separately, Commissioner Bush said that authorities were working as fast as they could to finish formally identifying the victims of the attacks at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques. He added that it was a sensitive process and that he was “aware of the cultural and religious needs”.

Bush said police did not believe that two people arrested near the scene were involved. A woman was released without charge and a man was charged with firearms offences.

An 18-year-old was also arrested but his involvement was said to be “tangential” and he would appear in court on Monday, the Commissioner added. However, he cautioned: “I will not be saying anything conclusive until we are absolutely convinced as to how many people were involved.”

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None of those detained had a criminal record. Tarrant has been remanded in custody without a plea and is due to appear in court again on April 5. The presiding judge ruled that the suspect’s face should be pixellated in photographs and moving images to preserve his fair trial rights.

–IANS

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