The mass shooting of 49 people at mosques in Christchurch is not only exponentially larger than the Aramoana shooting in 1990, but it also equates to the same number of gun homicides that happened in the country from 2010 to 2016, according to New Zealand police data.
Witness Mohan Ibrahim said he was one of 200 people in the Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch when he heard shots fired.
A right-wing extremist who filmed himself rampaging through two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch killing 49 worshippers appeared in court on a murder charge Saturday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of the men in custody was Australian.
Forty-two people are still being treated in hospital for injuries, including a four-year-old child, New Zealand health authorities said.
"He had a big gun. he came and started shooting everyone in the mosque, everywhere", said the man, Ahmad Al-Mahmoud. In Scotland, the shooting of 16 students and a teacher in March 1996 prompted the banning of private ownership of handguns in the United Kingdom, and after the Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were killed in a series of shootings, Austrailia enacted widespread tightening of gun laws.
The gunman targeted the men's prayer room in the mosque and then moved to the women's room. "It has no place in New Zealand", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tweeted.
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Pittsburgh Public Safety officials say they have been in contact with local Islamic leaders in response to the attack and will be increasing patrols at mosques and other locales. "They are one of us".
'There are obviously questions being asked of how this person was able to enter the country and undertake this act of terror'.
The primary suspect was an Australian citizen who "travelled sporadically to New Zealand and stayed for varied amount of time", Ardern told reporters.
Last year, New Zealand's prime minister announced that the country would boost its annual refugee quota from 1,000 to 1,500 in 2020. The police said there were also multiple improvised explosive devices attached to vehicles as part of the attack. Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said most of the team had gone to a mosque near Hagley Park by bus and were about to go inside when the incident took place.
Christchurch, a relatively small city on New Zealand's south island, hit global headlines in 2011 when it was struck by a deadly quake, killing more than 180 people.
The shootings occurred at two different mosques in two separate locations, and police advised mosques across the country to "shut their doors". Christchurch schools were put in lockdown for several hours and residents told to stay off the streets.