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New Zealand digs graves as mosque massacre toll rises to 50

17 March 2019

Christchurch residents have paid tribute to victims of the mosque attacks as families waited for authorities to release the bodies for burials on Sunday.

Bush said at a news conference Sunday that they found another body at Al Noor mosque as they finished removing the victims, bringing the number of people killed there to 42.

Christchurch Hospital Head of Surgery Dr Greg Robertson described how he watched the first victims arrive in private cars, followed by ambulance after ambulance.

As Christchurch's Muslim community reels from a devastating attack, city officials ordered digging of graves for the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in the country's modern history.

Dozens of Muslim supporters gathered at a center set up for victims, families and friends across the road from the hospital, where many had flown in from around New Zealand to offer support. He killed 41 people at Al Noor, before killing seven at another mosque nearby.

Ms Ardern held a series of meetings in Christchurch on Saturday to assure the Muslim community their safety was top priority.

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"I haven't spoken to her directly but she has reached out, [and given] an acknowledgment of what has occurred here in New Zealand".

President Donald Trump, who has a record of Islamophobic rhetoric, online behavior and policies, tweeted out his "warmest sympathy and best wishes" to the people of New Zealand.

Ardern also said she wanted to talk to Facebook, as footage of the attack on one of the mosques was broadcast live on Facebook, and a "manifesto" denouncing immigrants as "invaders" was posted online via links to related social media accounts minutes before the violence began.

When asked what he thought of the prime minister suggesting there should be a change in New Zealand's gun laws, the police commissioner said he was "happy to hear" that.

There were two attacks on Friday in Christchurch - one at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park, and one at the Linwood Masjid Mosque in the suburb of Linwood.

Tarrant was not known to the authorities, Bush said, and had no previous convictions. "Forgiving is going to take time", Omar Nabi, whose father Haji Daoud Nabi was gunned down, told reporters outside the Christchurch court.

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"I want to finish by saying that while the nation grapples with a form of grief and anger that we have not experienced before, we are seeking answers".

Mr Adeeb Sami's trip to New Zealand was supposed to be joyful - a chance for the Dubai-based father to surprise his twin children in time for their birthday.

Ardern has said Tarrant was a licensed gun owner who bought the five guns used in the crimes legally.

The country's gun laws are largely unchanged since 1992, when controls were tightened after the 1990 Aramoana massacre, in which a man killed 13 people with a semi-automatic rifle.

Tarrant, 28, who was living in Dunedin but is from Grafton, NSW, has been charged with one count of murder.

One person at the second mosque was being hailed for distracting and confronting the shooter, preventing further deaths.

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"Fijian hearts are breaking for our brothers and sisters in New Zealand - a place where an atrocity of this nature is shocking nearly beyond comprehension. New Zealand is home for all of us, and this despicable act will not change that feeling of closeness in us".

New Zealand digs graves as mosque massacre toll rises to 50