More than 40 people were killed in what has been described as a “violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack” on two mosques in Christchurch, which occurred during afternoon prayer on Friday. The city's hospital said it was treating 48 people for gunshot wounds, including young children.
I condemn the violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack that has stolen the lives of so many innocent New Zealanders as they went about their peaceful practice of worship at their mosques in Christchurch today.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 15, 2019
Three people were in custody on Friday morning Stockholm time, one of whom has been identified as an Australian-born man who wrote before the attack that he had been planning it for up to two years.
The over 70-page document cited by Australian media is ladled with white power references, referring to immigrants as “foreign invaders”, and describing the attack as an attempt to “create an atmosphere of fear”.
The Australian-born suspect, understood to be a man in his 20s, also reportedly describes himself as a racist and fascist, referring to Norwegian terrorist and mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and Swede Anton Lundin Pettersson, who killed three people in an attack on a school in Trollhättan in 2015.
He describes his motives as revenge for terrorism in Europe, and specifically names 11-year-old Swedish girl Ebba, one of five people killed in a terror attack on Drottninggatan in Stockholm in 2017.
“When I testified in court, I said I am reminded of my daughter's death all the time and not only when people talk about Drottninggatan but also when similar acts happen in other countries, but I would not even have been able to think that someone would write my daughter's name on a rifle,” Ebba's father told The Local.
He criticized Sweden for not offering more compensation to families of victims. “Sweden makes no difference between whether a person passes away in a terror attack or gets hit by a drunk driver. This is one of the reasons why there are terror funds in the rest of Europe, so that victims get support to have a chance to move on. (…) I end up in the spotlight when there's an attack in New Zealand – how sick is that?”
Floral tributes to the victims and messages of love after the truck attack in Stockholm in April 2017. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
New Zealand police said one man in his late 20s had been charged with murder and would appear in court on Saturday. Officers were investigating whether the other two, seized near the scene with weapons, were involved. They said they had established that a fourth person also detained was not linked to the shooting.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as “one of New Zealand's darkest days”.
“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home,” she said.
“They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.”