ISLAMABAD - The Foreign Office has confirmed that six Pakistanis embraced martyrdom in Friday’s terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand while three are still missing.

As many as 49 Muslims were killed and 20 injured in the New Zealand city of Christchurch when a gunman opened fire on worshippers in two separate mosques during Friday prayers time.

The appalling attack caused the international community to come together to offer condolences and express sympathy to the affected families.

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian racist, carried out the mass shootings in cold blood – sending the world in a state of deep shock.

When he was brought to the court on Saturday, the terrorist kept smearing and grinning showing he had no remorse for the hate crime he had committed against peaceful Muslims.

At least six of the Christchurch attack martyrs belong to Pakistan, FO Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said on Saturday.

“Sohail Shahid, Syed Jahandad Ali, Syed Areeb Ahmed, Mahboob Haroon, Naeem Rashid and his son, Talha Naeem, have been pronounced dead by the authorities,” he said in a tweet.

According to a statement issued by the FO, martyred Sohail and Jahandad belonged to Lahore, Areeb Ahmed hailed from Karachi and Mahboob was from Islamabad, while Naeem and his son Talha belonged to Abbottabad.

Authorities in Islamabad said that three Pakistani still remain missing and information about them would be shared once their identity was confirmed by the local authorities.

Foreign Office said one of the injured has been identified as Muhammad Amin Nasir, who hails from Hafizabad town of Punjab and is in Intensive Care Unit at a hospital.

Naeem Rashid (50), who hailed from Abbottabad,

 

tried to apprehend the attacker and stop him from killing worshippers at Masjid Al-Noor.

In the horrific video, live-steamed by the white extremist, Rashid was seen rushing to the gunman without a weapon in a bid to avert the attacker with just his bare hands even while his own son Talha got shot at the mosque.

Twitterati has since then been paying endless tributes to his unmatched audacity and exemplary courage. So much so, that the hashtag #NaeemRashid has become one of the top trends on Twitter.

The family of Naeem Rashid has sought help of authorities in getting visas for attending funeral of their loved ones.

Naeem’s mother told a press conference at her residence in Abbottabad that her daughter-in-law is alone in New Zealand and she needs their support at this difficult time.

Dr Khurshed, brother of Naeem, requested authorities to help them reach New Zealand on time.

 

 

Assistance to victim families

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua yesterday made a phone to New Zealand’s Ambassador in Tehran Hamish McMaster, who is also accredited to Pakistan, and requested for facilitation in assisting the victim Pakistani families.

FO spokesperson in a tweet said that the foreign secretary also conveyed condolences on the tragic loss of lives in the brutal attack.

In another tweet he said that Naeem Rashid and Talha Naeem - the father-son duo of Abbottabad - would be buried in Christchurch.

“Muslim and Pakistani Association in the city have assisted in arrangements. Mission is working with families of other 4 victims for possible transport of dead bodies to Pakistan,” he said.

He said immediate family members of the victims could apply for visa at https://t.co/y4cT4uRYCC. Applicants might send application number and scanned copies of passports to Moin Fudda, Honorary Counsel General of New Zealand for Pakistan, at his email moin@fudda.org and WhatsApp No. +923428200200.

A Crisis Management Cell (CMC) has also been established at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address the developing situation and the latest information regarding the New Zealand terrorist attack.

The cell will remain available round the clock for timely dissemination of information and assistance, said an FO press release.

The officers in the cell include Ms Samina Mehtab, Director General (EAP), (+92 51 8293805); Irfanullah Khan, Director (SEAP), (+923120010000, +92 51 9202623); Sarfaraz Ahmad Khan, Assistant Director (SEAP-I), (+92 3459185517, +92 51 9211659) and Muhammad Ramzan, Assistant Director (SEAP-I), (+92 3006051847, +92 51 9224415).

In addition to CMC in the ministry, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Dr Abdul Malik (+64 2 7777455, +64 4 4790026-27) and Deputy High Commissioner Syed Moazzam H Shah (+64 21 779495, +64 4 4790075) in New Zealand will also be available for information and assistance, round the clock.

 

 

Christchurch Mayor

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel on Saturday extended her condolences to the victims and their families and people who are affected by the attacks.

“Our thoughts go to the victims and their families and everyone that being affect,” Dalziel told Xinhua, calling the event “an unspeakable tragedy.” She also acknowledged the extraordinary response from the police and first responders.

“An attack on the Muslin community is an attack on us, on Christchurch and on New Zealand,” Dalziel said. She believed that Christchurch people will go through this together by “looking after each other ... in many diverse communities in our city.”

“We need to make sure that everyone feels safe, and everyone feels welcome and everyone feels a part of the city,” the mayor said. Major public events during the weekend have all been cancelled across New Zealand after the attacks.

 

 

New Zealand PM

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the suspect of the deadly mosque attacks used modified semi-automatic weapons.

She told a press conference in Wellington that there were still 39 people in hospital, 11 of whom in critical conditions.

Ardern said the suspected primary shooter used five guns, including semiautomatic weapons and shotguns, adding that he obtained a gun licence in November 2017 and acquired the guns legally thereafter.

“That will give you an indication of why we need to change our gun laws,” she said.

Authorities will be investigating how and when he acquired the firearms as well as the suspect’s travel in and out of New Zealand, Ardern said.

The prime minister said the two police officers who arrested terrorist Brenton Tarrant deserved plaudits for their bravery.

 

 

 

 

 

‘MUSLIMS STILL LOVE THIS COUNTRY:’

In a separate development, an imam who was leading prayers at one of the mosques said the Muslim community’s love for New Zealand would not be shaken by the massacre, reported The Telegraph.

“We still love this country,” said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, imam of Linwood Mosque, vowing that extremists would “never ever touch our confidence”.

Halim gave a harrowing account of the moment during Friday prayers when gunshots rang out in the mosque, replacing peaceful reflection with screaming, bloodshed and death.

“Everyone laid down on the floor, and some women started crying, some people died immediately,” he said.

But, he said, New Zealand Muslims still felt at home in the south Pacific nation.

“My children live here” he said, adding, “we are happy”.

He said the majority of New Zealanders “are very keen to support all of us, to give us full solidarity”, describing how strangers exchanged hugs with him on Saturday.

“They start to… give me big hug, and give me more solidarity. This is something very important.”