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49 killed in New Zealand mosque shootings

Jule Scherer, DPA on

Published in News & Features

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Forty-nine people have died after extremist gunmen targeted worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said 41 people were killed in Deans Avenue Mosque and seven were killed in the Linwood mosque in central Christchurch. One victim died at Christchurch Hospital.

Ardern said, "it is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack."

Police apprehended four suspects, but only three were connected with the shootings, she said. Explosives found attached to the suspects' vehicles were disarmed.

A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and is set to appear in Christchurch court on Saturday.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of the suspects was an Australian citizen, and Ardern confirmed that one stated they were Australian-born.

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"We, New Zealand, we were not a target because we are a safe harbour for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism," Arden said.

"We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of those things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it.

"You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you," she told the attackers. "I am not going to let this change New Zealand's profile, none of us should."

Ardern said none of the suspects has been on any watch list for their extremist views.

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