New Zealand digs graves as mosque massacre toll rises to 50

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One person died in hospital.

Labelling the attack as an act of terrorism, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to reform the country's gun laws.

The massacre during Friday prayers prompted a heartfelt response from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who pronounced it "one of New Zealand's darkest days" and said the shooter, an Australian native, had chosen to strike in New Zealand "because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion".

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in relation to the massacre on Friday, in which 49 people were killed and 42 injured.

Two other people were in custody and police said they were working to understand their involvement. That makes New Zealand's per capita rate of gun ownership higher than Australia's, but still far below the United States, where there is more than one gun per person.

"I can confirm that the bodies of those who have died are beginning to be returned to their families from this evening", she said, adding that all were expected to be released by Wednesday, March 20.

The suspect is then said to have driven about 5km (three miles) to another mosque in the suburb of Linwood where the second shooting occurred.

We have all been fortunate to spend time in Christchurch and have felt the warm, open-hearted and generous spirit that is core to its remarkable people.

Bush said that a further 50 people were injured in the attack, with 36 of them remaining in Christchurch Hospital and 12 of these in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Tarrant did not have a criminal history and was not on any watchlists in New Zealand or Australia.

"Ardern's performance has been extraordinary - and I believe she will be strongly lauded for it both domestically and internationally", said political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University in Wellington.

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The Queen released her own statement about the mass shooting, in addition to the Sussexes and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Abdul Aziz says he ran towards the gunman outside the mosque, throwing a credit card machine at him.

Residents pay their respects by placing flowers for the victims of the mosques attacks in Christchurch.

Two of the six Pakistanis killed - Naeem Rashid, 50, and his 21-year-old son Talha - had been living in New Zealand since 2010.

The AP also reported that Tarrant, who has donated to a number of white nationalist groups but has no other direct affiliation with them, allegedly was given personal approval by Breivik to commit the mosque attacks in Christchurch, though this has yet to be verified.

Ali said it was hard for relatives to know that the bodies had been lying in the mosques for more than a day.

Dirie's family had fled war-torn Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees and settled down in New Zealand.

"Many of the people require multiple trips to the theatre to deal with the complex series of injuries they have", said Christchurch Hospital's Chief of Surgery Greg Robertson.

The mosque shooter had held a gun license since 2017 and used two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns, and a lever-action firearm in the attack.

All of the guns Tarrant used during the attack were purchased legally, according to gun laws and restrictions in New Zealand.

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