Counter-terror police raid homes linked to New Zealand attack suspect Brenton Tarrant

Australian police officers raid the homes of the Christchurch mosque suspect's sister and mother

Australian police officers raid the homes of the Christchurch mosque suspect's sister and mother.

Counter terrorism units today carried out raids on homes linked to the family of New Zealand massacre suspect Brenton Tarrant as the country backed tough new gun laws.

The move came as police confirmed they believe “absolutely” only one perpetrator was responsible for the terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch during last Friday’s prayers.

Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, was charged with murder and appeared at court on Saturday.

Today police in Australia carried out raids on two homes linked to his family, including a search of a house believed to be occupied by the gunman’s sister Lauren at Sandy Beach, near Coffs Harbour, north of Sydney.

he shooting suspect in court (EPA)
Shortly afterwards members of the New South Wales Counter Terrorism Team stormed a second property at Lawrence, north of Grafton, where Tarrant’s mother, Sharon, is understood to live.

Police said later that the raids were “in support of the New Zealand police investigation into Friday’s terrorist attack.”

Tributes at the scene after the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history (EPA)
The raids came as New Zealand moved to impose tough new gun laws aimed at preventing further mass shootings.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting this morning Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to unveil major gun law reforms within the next 10 days, saying : “As a Cabinet we were absolutely clear, the terror attack on Friday was the worst act of terrorism on our shores.”

She said the shootings had “exposed a range of weaknesses” in New Zealand’s gun laws and added there would be an inquiry into the events leading up to the attacks.

In another development today it emerged that the owner of a Christchurch gun store said it sold four category A firearms to the alleged mosque gunman.

Gun City’s David Tipple told a press conference: “All Gun City sales to this individual followed a police-verified mail order process.”

He added: “The MSSA (military-style semi-automatic) reportedly used by the alleged gunman was not purchased from Gun City.”

Mr Tipple said he and his staff were “devastated” by the attacks at two mosques on Friday, which killed 50 people and left 50 more injured.

Twelve of the injured remained in critical condition over the weekend, including one child.

Earlier Ms Arden became the first signatory of a national condolence book which was opened in the capital Wellington.

She wrote: “On behalf of all New Zealanders we grieve together. We are one. They are us.”

It also emerged today that Tarrant intended to represent himself when he next appears in court, raising the possibility he could use it as a platform to air his extremist views.

Richard Peters, the duty lawyer who acted for the alleged killer in court at the weekend, told the New Zealand Herald that Tarrant wanted to represent himself in future.

He said Tarrant had appeared lucid and not mentally unstable, apart from his extreme views.  Nor did he express any regret for his actions.

The Christchurch shooting was New Zealand’s first mass shooting since 1994.

A survivor of the Christchurch attack told today how he found his young wife lying dead outside the mosque.

Abdul Nazer, 34, said he was sitting apart from 25-year-old Masters’ student Ansi Alibava when the shooting started at the Al Noor mosque.

The couple, originally from Kerela, had borrowed money to move to Christchurch last year for Ms Alibava to complete her studies, before planning to return to India and start a family.

Mr Nazer said he escaped through an emergency door after hearing the bullets and phoned the police from a nearby house before returning and seeing the carnage that had unfolded - including seeing the motionless figure of his wife, lying face down in the street.

“I ran towards her and then a police guy stopped me and told me to move somewhere else,” he said.

His faint hope that she may have somehow miraculously survived was dashed when, 24 hours later, police confirmed she was one of the 50 people killed.

Mr Nazer told CNN: “The life Ansi and I had together, the plans we made, the family we hoped to build here, all vanished in a moment of senseless anti-immigrant rage.”

Also among the dead was Gaza-born father-of-three Osama Adnan Abu Kwaik, who moved to New Zealand from Egypt after losing his project manager job in Egypt’s main communications company following the Arab Spring in 2010.

His brother, Youssef Adnan Abu Kwaik, said he “fell in love with New Zealand and the Kiwi people”.

He told the website “He was genuinely in love with the city and its people. He couldn’t stop telling me how hospitable the people are.

“I had never seen my brother happier.”

He said his brother wanted to provide “the best education” for his growing family and added: “He was truly one of a kind. He never used foul words. He was always praying. Always doing the right thing. Always helpful to others. He never cared about politics, but always cared about people.

“I have never been to New Zealand. But now, New Zealand will always have a piece of me buried in it.”

Muslim convert Linda Armstrong, 65, was also killed.

Her nephew Kyron Gosse told the New Zealand Herald she was adored by the Muslim community.

He said: “Linda had a huge heart and was willing to help out anyone who needed it. She befriended many travellers, immigrants and refugees. Opening her home, her heart and her kitchen.”

Ms Armstrong grew up in West Auckland and recently moved to Christchurch to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren, her family said.


Popular posts from this blog