People witnessing the horrific massacre at two mosques in New Zealand on Saturday say the gunman was ruthlessly shooting the worshipers as some others were waiting for him in a car.
The massacre took place during Friday prayers at the al-Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch — a city located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
The shooting attack which, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, appeared to have been well-planned, left 49 people killed and 42 others wounded.
Witnesses have said his accomplices waited in a car outside the mosques but the mainstream media narrative has only focused on the main attacker and the other members of the gang are not mentioned at all.
Police have so far arrested an Australian man, identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, for the shooting and charged him with one count of murder while more charges were expected to come. This is while four people, including a woman, were initially arrested, one of whom was released hours later.
Witnesses say they saw one assailant fleeing the scene after joining some other people who were waiting for him.
"The young guy, who usually takes care of the mosque ... he saw an opportunity and pounced on the gunman and took his gun," said Syed Mazharuddin, who witnessed the shooting attack. “There were people waiting for him [gunman] in the car and he fled."
Another resident described the shooting attack at al-Noor mosque as chaotic.
"This guy, this terrorist guy, stood] maybe for two minutes. After that he was shooting everyone, everyone - young people, old women," said Khaled al-Nobani. "He shot the first one on the gate, two people in the corridor, and went inside and started shooting everyone,” he added.
He also said that it took police too long to arrive at the scene. "The police also took 20 minutes to come…. There was no traffic about. You need two minute [maximum] response."
Tarrant, 28, appeared at Christchurch District Court on Saturday, where he was charged with murder. He will return to court on April 5. Police said he was likely to face further charges.
Australian Senator blames Muslims for bloodshed
While Muslims across the world were grieving the worst massacre in New Zealand's modern history, an Australian senator blamed Muslim refugees for "the bloodshed at the streets of the country".
“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” Senator Fraser Anning of Queensland said a Twitter message on Friday.
“As always, leftwing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views, but this is all clichéd nonsense,” he added.
Anning’s Islamophobic remarks drew criticism from Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison, describing them as “disgusting.”
“The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are. Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian parliament,” said Morrison.
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid also reacted to the remarks, calling Anning a “racist” who in “no way does he represent our Australian friends.”
“At a time for grieving and reflection, this Australian senator … fans the flames of violence and extremism,” Javid wrote in Twitter post.
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also called Anning “a disgrace to the Senate.”
“Fraser Anning’s comments today are contemptible. He is a disgrace to the Senate and, what is worse, by spreading hatred and turning Australians against each other, he is doing exactly what the terrorists want.” Turnbull said.