Nine India-origin people missing after NZ shooting

Representative photo of police outside the mosque in Christchurch. AP

At least 9 people of Indian nationality or Indian origin are reported missing after Friday’s Christchurch shootings at two New Zealand mosques, Indian envoy to New Zealand Sanjiv Kohli tweeted. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has condemned the shooting, described as the country’s worst ever mass shooting, and termed it a terrorist attack.

A gunman stormed two mosques and opened fire killing 49 people and leaving 20 others injured during Friday prayers in the country’s worst mass shooting every. The attacker live-streamed footage of him going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away. Identified as an Australian extremist, the gunman had also published a ‘manifesto,’ in which he referred to immigrants as ‘invaders.’ New Zealand was placed on high security alert immediately and four people have been taken into custody, with one of them being charged with murder.

As reports of some people of Indian nationality and origin emerged, New Delhi said the Indian mission was in touch with local authorities to find out more details. “It is a sensitive matter and therefore we can’t give confirmed numbers/names till we are absolutely certain,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Back home in Hyderabad, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi identified one of the missing people of Indian origin as Ahmed Jahangir. Owaisi put out two tweets in which he tagged external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj saying that a video from Christchurch “shows one Ahmed Jehangir who was shot”.

New Zealand police described the footage shot by the gunman as “extremely distressing” and warned web users that they could be liable for up to 10 years in jail for sharing such “objectionable content”. The attack has shocked New Zealanders, who are used to seeing around 50 murders a year in the entire country of 4.8 million and pride themselves on living in a secure and welcoming place.

US President Donald Trump condemned the “horrible massacre” in what the White House called a “vicious act of hate”. “The US stands by New Zealand for anything we can do,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter. The gunman’s manifesto praised Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”.

The Bangladesh cricket team narrowly avoided being caught up in the shooting while on a bus approaching one of the mosques while in Christchurch for a Test match, which has since been cancelled.