–FO says three Pakistani nationals remain missing after massacre
–New Zealand court charges 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant with murder
ISLAMABAD/CHRISTCHURCH: Out of 49 people who were killed in mass shootings in New Zealand’s Christchurch on Friday, at least six belonged to Pakistan, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesman Mohammad Faisal said on Saturday.
“Sohail Shahid, Syed Jahandad Ali, Syed Areeb Ahmed, Mahboob Haroon, Naeem Rashid and his son, Talha Naeem, have been pronounced dead by the authorities,” Dr Faisal said in a tweet.
On Friday, at least four Pakistani nationals were reportedly injured and five others had gone missing after violent gun attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. Three Pakistani however still remain missing and a search for them is underway.
The FO confirmed the death of six Pakistanis shortly after a list was issued earlier on Saturday. The list included: Zeeshan Raza; father of Zeeshan Raza; mother of Zeeshan Raza; Haroon Mahmood, son of Shahid Mehmood; Sohail Shahid, son of Muhammad Shabbir; Syed Areeb Ahmed, son of Ayaz Ahmed; Syed Jahanand Ali Talha Naeem; Naeem Rashid.
Naeem Rashid and his son Talha Naeem tried to intercept the shooter, but they were shot dead in their attempt. Naeem and Talha, who hailed from Abbottabad, were injured as they attempted to overpower the attacker and later succumbed to their injuries.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi also spoke to the media about the terror attack on Saturday.
“We are waiting for identification of [missing] Pakistanis. Obviously I’m getting more worried with time as we have not been able to contact them [the missing Pakistanis] and I fear that they might be on the list of martyrs. But nothing has been communicated to us officially yet and to say anything before an official confirmation will be speculation,” he said while condemning the attack in strong words.
TERRORIST CHARGED WITH MURDER:
Meanwhile, a right-wing extremist who filmed himself on a shooting rampage flashed a white power gesture as he appeared in a Christchurch court on Saturday and was charged with murder.
Australian-born 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant stood in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison smock, as the judge read a single murder charge against him. A raft of further charges is expected.
The former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist occasionally turned to look at media present in court during the brief hearing that the public were excluded from for security reasons.
Flanked by armed police he made an upside-down “okay” signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe. He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance which is scheduled for April 5.
A short distance from the court, 39 people were being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds and other injuries inflicted in the massacre.
The wounded included a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl, who was in critical condition.
‘MUSLIMS STILL LOVE THIS COUNTRY’:
In a separate development, an imam who was leading prayers at one of the mosques said the Muslim community’s love for New Zealand would not be shaken by the massacre, reported The Telegraph.
“We still love this country,” said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, imam of Linwood Mosque, vowing that extremists would “never ever touch our confidence”.
Halim gave a harrowing account of the moment during Friday prayers when gunshots rang out in the mosque, replacing peaceful reflection with screaming, bloodshed and death.
“Everyone laid down on the floor, and some women started crying, some people died immediately,” he said.
But, he said, New Zealand Muslims still felt at home in the south Pacific nation.
“My children live here” he said, adding, “we are happy”.
He said the majority of New Zealanders “are very keen to support all of us, to give us full solidarity”, describing how strangers exchanged hugs with him on Saturday.
“They start to… give me big hug, and give me more solidarity. This is something very important.”
At least 49 people were killed and 20 injured in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday when at least one gunman opened fire on worshippers in two separate mosques.
The attack, which came around the time people were attending the mosques for Friday prayers, was the deadliest in the western nation’s history.