Christchurch terror attack: Live updates

Author
NZ Herald ,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 20 March 2019, 6:44AM

Islamic leaders have vowed to hold Friday prayer at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch exactly one week after an armed terrorist gunned down 42 worshippers.

The Deans Ave mosque's religious leader Imam Gamal Fouda, who survived New Zealand's worst ever terror attack, said the move will show the world that Muslims, and all New Zealanders, will not bow down to terror.

"We are going to prayer here on Friday," said Fouda today, speaking to the Herald at the cordon across the road from the mass murder scene.

"The majority of people, including myself, we decided to come and prayer close to our site. We will never forsake it to please those people who actually attacked us."

Linwood Mosque Imam Alabi Lateef Zirullah also confirmed to the Herald that his congregation will join Friday prayer at Al Noor Mosque.

There is still a cordon patrolled by armed police around the building across from Hagley Park in central Christchurch. It has been a pilgrimage site for thousands of Cantabrians laying flowers, leaving messages, and paying their respects over the last five days.

A massive clean-up operation is underway inside the mosque. Fouda has vowed that the mosque will be rebuilt on its existing site, with carpet replaced, and walls, windows, and roof being fixed.

Today was Fouda's third visit to the site since Friday's shooting, which began 5-6 minutes into his Friday prayer sermon. He survived by hiding in the main room, huddled against the wall with other terrified worshippers.

"I'm coming back here [feeling] stronger," he told the Herald today.

"We need to stand as one community and show that we are still strong and that people will not break us. As Muslims, as New Zealanders, we will stand strong.

"We want to send a strong message, that nothing will break us as New Zealanders, and as Muslims particularly. It also sends a strong message to the world that New Zealand is still the safest place in the world and will continue to be."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed there will be two minutes' silence on Friday to mark the loss of life in the Christchurch terror attack.

Earlier, Ardern visited frontline heroes and praised their professionalism during the Christchurch terror attack. She shook a number of paramedics’ hands and briefly spoke to each one individually.

She said, on behalf of New Zealanders, thank you for doing “what you did on our darkest day.”

She said no one could prepare for what happened on Friday, but the responders showed care, responsibility and compassion.

"I saw you moving with speed, pace and care," she said.

“I have no doubt you saved lives.”

The Police Commissioner has also commended his "courageous" officers who arrested the alleged gunman 21 minutes after they were alerted while he was on route to another attack.

Mike Bush provided the updated information to media today, saying it took 5 minutes and 39 seconds for police to be armed and on the scene ready to respond to the attack. In 10 minutes the armed offenders squad was on the scene.

"In 21 minutes the person now in custody was arrested, from when we were first notified to when we intervened and he was arrested, away from further harm from the public," Bush said.

"We strongly we believe we stopped him on the way to further attack. Lives were saved."

The timeline of events for Friday's attacks which killed 50 people and wounded another 50 was about 40 minutes.

The accused gunman was arrested by two officers on Brougham St, following the shootings at both the Deans Ave and Linwood mosques.

 

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