|New Zealand terror attack suspect appears in court on murder charges|
|The twenty-eight-year-old suspect appeared in court on Saturday charged with murder, after a terror attack on two Christchurch mosques that left at least 49 dead.|
|NEWS / ASIA Haberi|
New Zealand terror attack suspect who filmed himself rampaging through two mosques in Christchurch killing 49 worshippers appeared in court on a murder charge Saturday.
Australian-born terrorist appeared in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, sitting impassively as the judge read a single murder charge against him. A raft of further charges are expected.
Self-professed fascist occasionally turned to look and smirked at media present in court during the brief hearing that was held behind closed doors for security reasons.
He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance scheduled for April 5.
At least 49 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called "one of New Zealand's darkest days."
The terrorist was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned terrorist attack in Christchurch city. Police also defused explosive devices in a car.
Forty-two people are still being treated in hospital for injuries, including a four-year-old child, New Zealand health authorities said.
Wounds range from minor to critical, they said.
Still image taken from video circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack on two mosques unfolded, shows him driving in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. (Reuters)
The suspect who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for the attack.
He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist.
TRT World's Jacob Brown explains.
Police also took three men and a woman into custody after the shootings, which shocked people across the nation of five million people.
Police later said one of the arrests didn't relate to the shootings.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand had been placed on its highest security threat level.
The prime minister said the events in Christchurch represented "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" and acknowledged many of those affected may be migrants and refugees.
"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," she said.
"From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned."
About 41 people were killed at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1:45 pm [local time], and the rest were killed in a second shooting at the Linwood Masjid Mosque.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that an Australian citizen was arrested in New Zealand's mosque shootings. He called the attacker an "extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist."
New Zealand police lifted a city-wide lockdown that was imposed in Christchurch after the attacks.
New Zealand's Police Commissioner Mike Bush said a number of IEDs that were attached to vehicles were found and made safe by their defence force.
Witnesses told media that a man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle had started randomly shooting people in the Al Noor mosque.
He had livestreamed the shooting on Facebook.
Cricketers escape unhurt
Meanwhile, the third cricket test between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been cancelled in the wake of the shooting.
The visiting Bangladesh cricket team narrowly avoided the shooting after arriving at the mosque for prayers.
New Zealand Cricket said they had decided to cancel the test, which was scheduled to start at Hagley Oval on Saturday, after discussions with the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
A witness described the sound of gunfire breaking out just as the prayer leader began his sermon at a mosque.
Radio New Zealand quoted a witness inside the mosque saying he heard shots fired and at least four people were lying on the ground and "there was blood everywhere".
"Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred," said Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch.
Terrorist had visited Bulgaria
Prosecutors in Bulgaria launched a probe into a recent visit to the country by the terrorist behind the attack.
He visited Bulgaria from November 9-15 last year claiming he wanted "to visit historical sites and study the history of the Balkan country", Bulgaria's public prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said, adding that the inquiry would establish if this was "correct or if he had other objectives."
Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand's population, a 2013 census showed.
Christchurch is home to nearly 400,000 people and is sometimes called the Garden City. It has been rebuilding since an earthquake in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed many downtown buildings.
Before Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history took place in the small town of Aramoana in 1990, when a gunman killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbour.