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'Heartfelt grief and sorrow' - Pacific pledges solidarity after Christchurch mosque attacks

17 March 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country will change its gun laws following the mass shootings on Friday.

The hospital also confirmed 39 people are still receiving treatment, with 11 of them in intensive care.

Ms Ardern has been fulsome in her praise of police officers and emergency services, as well as defence specialists for defusing improvised explosive devices. After investigations, Mr Bush said the woman had been released without charge.

Bush said police did not believe that three other people arrested on Friday were involved in the attack. Patients ranged in age from 2 years old to almost 70, according to David Meates, chief executive of the Canterbury District Health Board.

The court was closed to the public over safety concerns, however a number of people gathered outside ahead of his appearance, including a man who told reporters his father was one of the victims.

Gun control expert Philip Alpers suggested that Ardern's quick response to the attack may indicate that New Zealand will address the availability of military-style semi-automatic rifles as promptly as Australia did after a mass shooting in 1996.

The alleged gunman has been identified by authorities as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old native of Grafton, Australia.

There will likely be additional charges, reported CBC News, but the police have yet to release details of what they may be.

Tarrant seemed "as normal as anyone else" and had "certainly" never mentioned anything about his beliefs about Muslims, the club's vice president, Scott Williams, said.

Two mosques were targeted in the attack.

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She said, "The mere fact... that this individual had acquired a gun licence and acquired weapons of that range, then obviously I think people will be seeking change, and I'm committing to that".

The Christchurch attacker could have killed even more people as he was on the move at the time of his arrest, and had more firearms in his auto, New Zealand's PM said, praising police who responded to the call in just 36 minutes.

Ansun Zhong, owner of Chong's Chinese restaurant in Christchurch City Central, said the shooting greatly affected people's life in Christchurch.

Questions have been raised about why Tarrant had not appeared on a watchlist of New Zealand or Australian security agencies.

It is customary in Islam to bury the dead within the 24 hours.

The suspect had five guns with him during the attack, described by multiple media outlets as "two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns, and one lever-action firearm".

There are an estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand, which has a population of only 5 million, but the country has had low levels of gun violence.

On Saturday, the White House said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence spoke with New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters on Friday to express condolences for "the despicable terror attacks".

Pence also affirmed USA cooperation in ensuring all the perpetrators were brought to justice.

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'Heartfelt grief and sorrow' - Pacific pledges solidarity after Christchurch mosque attacks