New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delivered an emotional and defiant condemnation to the shooters who allegedly killed 49 people at Christchurch mosques on Friday.
An emotional Ms Ardern spoke to the nation on Friday evening to convey that 40 people had died in the attacks, however, the death toll was confirmed at 49 by NZ Police Commissioner Mike Bush soon after that. A further 48 were injured, many critically.
Three men and a woman are in custody, with one man in his late 20s charged and due to face a Christchurch court on Saturday morning.
Ms Ardern called it one of New Zealand’s darkest days and stressed there was no place for extremist violence in her country, or perpetrators of it.
“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand, and in fact have no place in the world,” she said.
‘They are us’
She told New Zealanders they were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism but because they represent diversity, kindness, compassion and a refuge for those who need it.
Ms Ardern said those attacked should have been safe.
Many of those who were killed or injured may be migrants to New Zealand, even refugees, she said.
“They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us.
“The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”
“And those values I can assure you will not and cannot be shaken by this attack,” she said.
“You may have chosen us, but we are utterly reject and condemn you,” she said of the attackers, none of whom were on a security watchlist.
Condolences flow from around the world
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the event as a “callous, right wing extremist attack”, and confirmed one of the people in custody was an “Australian-born citizen”.
“As family members with our New Zealand cousins, today we grieve, we are shocked, we are appalled, we are outraged and we stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist that has taken the lives, stolen the lives, in a vicious, murderous attack, that has claimed so many New Zealanders,” he said.
The Queen said she was “deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives”, while UK Prime Minister Theresa May said: “On behalf of the UK, my deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand after the horrifying terrorist attack in Christchurch.”
US President Donald Trump offered his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to New Zealand. “The US stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!” he wrote.
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.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2019
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she mourned “with New Zealanders for their fellow citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred while peacefully praying in their mosques”, while French President Emmanuel Macron called it an “odious attack” and that France stood “against any form of extremism”.
– with AAP