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15th Mar 2019

New Zealand prime minister labels mosque shootings a terrorist attack

New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has labelled the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that claimed 40 lives as a terrorist attack

Reuben Pinder

The attack claimed 40 lives

The prime minister of New Zealand has labelled the attack on two mosques in Christchurch as terrorist attacks.

“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said, addressing the nation.

“From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspects’ vehicles have been found and they have been disarmed,” she added.

Four people have been arrested in relation to the attack – three men and one woman – one of whom is Australian born.

The attack took place on Friday afternoon in New Zealand’s capital. 30 people died at Al Noor mosque on Dean’s Road and there were 10 more fatalities at the Linwood Islamic Centre on Linwood Avenue.

Ardern also said that the terrorists chose to attack New Zealand due to its tolerant and welcoming worldview.

“We New Zealanders were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone this racism, or because we are an enclave of extremism, we were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things,” she said.

“I want to send a message to those directly affected…For many this may have not been the place they were born. For many New Zealand was their choice, a place they actively came to and committed themselves to…it was a place where many came to for their safety. A place where it was safe to practice their culture and religion.

“We represent diversity and compassion, a home for those who share our values, a refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and can not be shaken by this attack. We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities and 160 languages.”

She issues “the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this”.

“You may have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you.”