At least 49 people were killed and 48 wounded in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers in an attack broadcast in a live video by an immigrant-hating white supremacist wielding at least two assault rifles and a shotgun.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. She called it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
Nine Indian nationals or people of Indian origin were reported missing after the horrifying attack. The Indian high commission in New Zealand has set up 24×7 helpline numbers to offer assistance and information, official sources said. Families of those affected are being assisted in getting visas to New Zealand.
While one victim was identified as Mohammed Juned Kara (34) from Navsari in Gujarat, the Indian High Commission in New Zealand said there were nine “missing persons of Indian nationality/origin” and that they were awaiting official confirmation.
A man in his late 20s was charged with murder and will appear in court on Saturday morning, the police said. Two other men and one woman were detained and firearms and explosive devices were recovered.
Condemning the killings, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “The world stands in need of compassion & understanding. Not bigotry & hate filled extremism. My condolences to the families of the victims.”
New Zealand is home to approximately 200,000 Indian and Indian-origin people. There are over 30,000 Indian students in the country, according to the Indian High Commission data on its website.