European trip, gun club membership: Details emerge of Christchurch accused

Publish Date
Sat, 16 Mar 2019, 2:33PM

European trip, gun club membership: Details emerge of Christchurch accused

Publish Date
Sat, 16 Mar 2019, 2:33PM

Alleged Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant's recent trip to eastern Europe is being investigated by authorities.

Reuters says Turkish officials are investigating his movements and contacts after an extended stay in the country.

Nine News reporter Robert Morrison says Tarrant's international movements are now a focus for Australian counter-terrorism investigators.

"We also know that they are paying particular attention to a road trip he took through Europe between Portugal, Spain and France."

Morrison says there's also evidence Tarrant spent time in Pakistan and North Korea.

Bulgarian officials have confirmed that the 28-year-old Australian national was in Bulgaria last November.

Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has spoken after a special meeting of security, intelligence and law enforcement chiefs called in Sofia by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack.

Sources in Bulgaria have told the Herald that while watching the dramatic coverage emerge from New Zealand, they noticed Cryllic script and eastern European inscriptions on the automatic rifle magazines found at shooting scenes.

The markings included the names of famous battles and historical figures who fought against Ottoman rule.

Authorities have confirmed that victims with Turkish heritage were among the 49 killed in yesterday's massacre.

Tsatsarov told Bulgarian media in Sofia that Tarrant had been in Bulgaria between November 9 and 15 last year, after arriving on a flight from Dubai.

He had hired a car and travelled on a route from Sofia via Pleven, Gabrovo, Bachovo, Kazanluk, Blagoevgrad and Pernik, including other places in Bulgaria, the Sofia Globe reports.

"Tarrant apparently visited various places in Bulgaria, including Dryanovo, Pleven, Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Asenovgrad, Bachkovo and Bansko," the news outlet said.

"From Bulgaria, he had flown to Bucharest, from where he rented a car and went on Hungary."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed today that Tarrant had travelled around the world with "sporadic periods of time spent in New Zealand".

Tarrant had talked online about a supposed trip to Pakistan.

He had been living in Dunedin. There is a large police presence at his Dunedin address.

Locals have described him as both quiet and someone who liked to talk about his travels.

Police said there were five guns used in the attacks, with two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns, and a lever action firearm recovered from the scenes.

It has also been revealed he has is a member of a South Otago gun club and practised shooting at its range.

A spokesman for Bruce Rifle Club, which is based near Milton, confirmed to the Otago Daily Times that Tarrant is a member of the club and practised shooting at its range.

He said he did not have time to comment further, but said the club was assisting police with its investigation.