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Christchurch attacker intended to continue rampage when arrested

The main suspect in New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting intended to continue the rampage before he was caught by police.

A police officer secures the area in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch on 15 March 2019. Picture: AFP

CHRISTCHURCH - The main suspect in New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting intended to continue the rampage before he was caught by police, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday.

This comes a day after an attack that killed 49 people and wounded dozens, prompting the prime minister to vow reform of the country’s gun laws.

“The offender was mobile, there were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in, and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,” Ardern told reporters in Christchurch. The suspect, identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian citizen, has been charged with murder, though Ardern added that further charges are likely.

“I’m not privileged to a full breakdown at this point but it is clear that young children have been caught up in this horrific attack,” she said regarding victims of the attack.

MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER AFTER NEW ZEALAND MOSQUE SHOOTINGS

The main suspect in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques was charged with one count of murder.

Tarrant appeared in a Christchurch District Court on Saturday and was remanded without a plea until his next scheduled appearance in the South Island city’s High Court on 5 April.

Handcuffed and wearing a white prison suit, Tarrant did not speak. His court-appointed lawyer made no application for bail or name suppression.

He was likely to face further charges, police said.

The attack, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labelled as terrorism, was the worst ever peacetime mass killing in New Zealand and the country raised its security threat level to the highest.

Tarrant has been identified as a suspected white supremacist, based on his social media activity.

Footage of the attack on one of the mosques was broadcast live on Facebook, and a “manifesto” denouncing immigrants as “invaders” was also posted online via links to related social media accounts.

The video footage showed a man driving to the mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside. Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay on the floor, the video showed. Reuters was unable to confirm the footage’s authenticity and police urged people not to view or share it.

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