New Zealand pledges reforms as relaxed gun laws scrutinized

The court ordered Tarrant be held without bail, as it awaits additional charges to be filed, in the deaths of 49 Muslim worshipers.

Instead, the accused smirked at media persons present and swayed while the charges were read out.

Following the horrendous massacre, a 28-year-old Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, has been charged with murder.

Tarrant was remanded without a plea until his next scheduled appearance in the South Island city's High Court on April 5.

Brenton Tarrant, a self-described fascist, has been charged with murder in the shooting.

Leaders, organisations and the media around the world expressed disgust and sorrow at the killing of 49 people in shootings at two New Zealand mosques on Friday, attacks that many blamed on the demonisation of Muslims by the West.

Before Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history took place in 1990 in the small town of Aramoana, where a gunman killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbour. It was later notified that one of the detained was later let go.

Full details of the weapons used in the attack have not been released publicly but Ardern confirmed that two semi-automatic rifles were involved.

"I can tell you one thing right now - our gun laws will change".

Although shops were shuttered and many made a decision to stay at home, Christchurch residents piled bouquets of flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Al Noor mosque, many accompanied with handwritten letters laden with sadness and disbelief.

- AP A woman paying her respects to the victims of the attack at a makeshift memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque, Saturday, March 16, 2019, Christchurch, New Zealand.

All mosques across New Zealand have been urged to close their doors for the time being, and in Scotland, police have stepped up patrols around mosques - however, officers insist there is no intelligence to suggest a specific threat in this country.

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Among the wounded, two were in a critical condition, including a four-year-old child.

"At just that moment, there was one young guy who usually takes care of the mosque and helps with parking and other stuff, so (the man) saw an opportunity and he pounced over to him and grabbed his gun".

"One of the issues we are facing is that the guns that were used in this case appear to have been modified", Ardern said.

She said neither the gunmen nor the suspected accomplices were on any terrorist watchlist in New Zealand or Australia.

Two other people remain in custody, although their link to the attack is not clear.

"I hadn't intended for anybody other than the people at Medina Mosque to know about this", Mr Graystone said.

Before the attacks, New Zealand was widely considered a placid, scenic land that doubled as the home of the hobbits in Jackson's cinematic versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy novels.

The former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist occasionally turned to look at media present in court during the brief hearing that the public were excluded from for security reasons.

Desperate for any news, families and friends of the victims gathered at the city's Hagley College, near the hospital.

-AP New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, left, speaks to the chair of Canterbury Refugee Centre Ahmed Tani, Saturday, March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Strict gun law reforms received bipartisan political support at the time and there has not been a mass shooting since.

  • Sonia Alvarado