'We still love this country', says imam of attacked New Zealand mosque

Flowers left at cordon

Flowers left at cordon

In the aftermath, the country's threat level was raised from low to high, police warned Muslims against going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand, and the national airline cancelled several flights in and out of Christchurch, a city of almost 400,000.

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

One of the victims has uploaded a video from his hospital bed, to thank well-wishers and ask them to pray for his five-year-old daughter, who remains in a critical condition.

By the time the rampage was over, the gunman had killed 41 people.

It was the deadliest terror attack in the nation's history.

"My dad is a real hero", Sami's daughter, Heba, told Gulf News on Friday. "They shot them until they died".

"The problem is that it's not new", said Imam Yousef Wahb before mid-afternoon prayers.

Children are believed to be among the dead and wounded.

Politicians in Pakistan and India have also expressed their grief, and shared messages of support to families who may have lost their loved ones. He spoke with CBC Friday morning.

Police officers search the area near the Masjid Al Noor mosque site of one of the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand Saturday
49 Dead In 'Terrorist Attack' At 2 Mosques In Christchurch, New Zealand

A young boy, aged about 7, was also killed, he said. "And those values, I can assure you, will not, and cannot, be shaken by this attack".

Windsor's Muslim community came out in their usual numbers for Friday prayers, shaken this week, however, by the horrific terrorist attack on the other side of the globe earlier in the day but standing steadfast in their resolve to maintain their way of life.

A few hundred metres down the street where the alleged gunman drove after attacking the first mosque, bunches of flowers were slowly building in memoriam. The gunman spends more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying terrified worshippers with bullets again and again, sometimes re-firing at people he has already cut down. One man tries to greet him calmly, calling out "Hello, brother". He walked back into the mosque, where there were at least two dozen people lying on the ground. It was still unclear whether any other shooters were involved in the attacks. "One leg of an injured needed to be amputated while another suffered bullet injuries in his chest", Rahman Bhuiyan said.

Two people are still in custody.

But Yasalar said there is no escaping the horrendous magnitude of the events in Christchurch. "He is traumatized, but we are all alive".

New Zealand's Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Australian and New Zealand intelligence agencies are working closely together to "form a picture" of Tarrant's activities prior to the attack, and what led to the massacre. If the shooting had started mid-prayer, he said, he thinks the death toll would have been higher. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and other Islamic leaders pointed to the bloodbath and other such attacks as evidence of rising hostility toward Muslims since 9-11.

"He always seemed to embody the philosophies of the fitness industry which is that we are inclusive and we accept all shapes of sizes and all fitness abilities and we are here to help and improve and help people", she said.

"For these people who are victims in these mosques - they are refugees, they are people who are from our migrant communities who've chosen to live in New Zealand, thinking they would find a safe place where they could be free in their religion and their culture". "Call it out in our communities, in our societies, in our families, in our friendships, in our workplaces", said Hussen. He also said he hoped to further polarise and destabilise the West, and spark a civil war in the United States that would ultimately result in a separation of races.

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