New Zealand struggles to answer 'why' in wake of massacre

The suspect made a sign to the camera during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court on Saturday

POOL New Reuters The suspect made a sign to the camera during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court on Saturday

The Pacific has reacted with sadness and shown solidarity for New Zealand after at least 49 people were killed in shootings at two Christchurch mosques yesterday.

Two other armed suspects were taken into custody Friday while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand, a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns. "We as a health system are here to support everyone in our community".

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, noting that numerous victims could be migrants or refugees.

The victim can not be named by order of the court.

One man at the second mosque in the suburb of Linwood was hailed for distracting and confronting the shooter, preventing further deaths. "It was his intention to continue his attack", the prime minister said.

"I'm so proud of what they've done", he said.

The court was closed to the public over safety concerns, however a number of people gathered outside ahead of his appearance, including a man who told reporters his father was one of the victims.

They shared a video message from musicians SOL3MIO, who dedicated a song to "New Zealand, and to family and friends".

The attack came during Friday prayers when the mosques were filled with hundreds of worshippers.

A video live-streamed by him on Facebook showed him rapidly firing what appeared to be hundreds of bullets at his defenseless victims using various weapons. "We are working to have any footage removed", New Zealand police said.

At least 49 people were killed in Friday's attack. It was not signed. Thirty- six people were still being treated on Saturday, 11 of whom remained in intensive care.

Ardern said Saturday that she had met with relatives of the victims and their "key concern" was to have access to their loved ones' remains for burial.

Security at London mosques was hiked up yesterday after the New Zealand attacker said he was inspired by events in the United Kingdom and wanted Muslim London mayor Sadiq Kahn dead.

He was remanded in custody to reappear in court April 5.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Pacific Area Presidency also released a statement of support for Muslim communities and all others impacted by the Christchurch shootings.

Brenton Tarrant used two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm in the attack. Dunedin is about 225 miles from Christchurch.

Among the victims was Atta Elayyan, 33, who served as goalkeeper on New Zealand's national futsal team (futsal is an indoor variant of soccer).

Tarrant did not have a criminal history and was not on any watchlists in New Zealand or Australia.

There will likely be additional charges, reported CBC News, but the police have yet to release details of what they may be. None of those arrested in the attacks had been on any security watch lists prior to the attack.

"What I can say is that an 18-year- old man will appear in court on Monday but that arrest was tangential to this matter and we do not believe that he was involved in this attack either", Mr Bush said.

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