New Delhi: At least nine Indian nationals or people of Indian origin are feared missing in New Zealand following the deadly terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch which killed 49 people, unofficial sources said.
Forty-nine people have been reported killed so far and at least 48 others have been wounded in the twin shootings according to New Zealand police, which said it has taken four people into custody — three men and one woman. One person was later released.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the terrorist attack stating that hatred and violence have no place in diverse and democratic societies. In a letter to New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Modi expressed India's solidarity with the people of New Zealand at this difficult time.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj condemned the dastardly terror attack and put out the helpline numbers of the Indian High Commission in New Zealand tagging High Commissioner Sanjiv Kohli for Indians requiring assistance. "Any Indian requiring assistance should contact Indian High Commission in New Zealand on 021803899 or 021850033" Swaraj said.
In his Twitter account (unverified) Kohli said, "As per updates received from multiple sources there are 9 missing persons of Indian nationality/ origin. Official confirmation still awaited. Huge crime against humanity. Our prayers with their families." Official confirmation about Indian casualties may take a while to come in.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "Our Mission is in touch with local authorities to ascertain more details. It is a sensitive matter and therefore we can't give confirmed numbers/names till we are absolutely certain."
"Assistance is being provided to the next of kin of those affected in getting appropriate visa to New Zealand. We will keep you updated as and when we have additional information," diplomatic sources said.
Meanwhile, one person in Hyderabad Khurshid Jahangir told ANI that his relative Ahmed Jahangir was injured in the shooting."My brother was injured and is now recovering in a hospital. He is currently undergoing surgery. We have seen in the video he has been shot in the chest. We're trying to reach the Embassy."
Another person Mohammed Sayeeduddin, father of Farhaj Ahsan who is missing since shootings in Christchurch told ANI, "My son went to the mosque to offer Friday prayers and has not returned yet. About 17 people are still missing. Request government to find about the whereabouts and well being of my son."
Asaduddin Owaisi, President of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party and Member of Parliament tweeted about the incident "A video from #ChristChurch shows one Ahmed Jehangir who was shot. His brother Iqbal Jehangir is a resident of Hyderabad & would like to go to NZ for Ahmed’s family," said Owaisi requesting the Working President of TRS and Swaraj for visa assistance to the family.
"I request @KTRTRS @TelanganaCMO @MEAIndia @SushmaSwaraj to make necessary arrangements for the Khursheed family, " Owaisi said in a tweet followed by passport details of the injured person's brother. This was followed by another tweet where he thanked Swaraj for personally updating him about MEA’s efforts in assisting Ahmed’s & Ahsan’s families to reach New Zealand.
Two men from Vadodara in Gujarat are also feared missing after the Christchurch attacks. Their family has sought help in tracing them.
In the worst ever terror attack in New Zealand, multiple gunmen carried out indiscriminate shootings at two mosques in Christchurch during the Friday prayers, leaving 49 people dead and at least 48 wounded, besides giving a scare to the Bangladesh cricket team which had a narrow escape.
Using automatic weapons, the gunmen launched a "well-planned" attack on the mosques when devotees had assembled for the weekly prayers. The Bangladesh cricket team members, who were in New Zealand for the third Test match with the hosts, had a narrow escape as they were barred from getting off their bus when they arrived to offer prayers at the Al Noor mosque which was attacked. Meanwhile, the Test scheduled to start on Saturday was cancelled with immediate effect.
According to the police, 41 people were killed at Al Noor mosque and seven at Linwood mosque while one injured died in a hospital. One of the perpetrators live-streamed his gruesome act for about 17 minutes. Several guns have been recovered from both mosques, while, two explosive devices were found on two vehicles at the scene, one of which was defused, the police confirmed.
A man, in his late 20s, has been charged with murder and will appear in Christchurch court on Saturday. Two others arrested at the scene with guns are being investigated. A fourth person arrested may have had nothing to do with the attack, police said. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that at least one attacker is an Australian citizen.
Condemning the terror strike, Ardern described it as a “terror attack” and said it “appears to have been well planned”. She asserted that New Zealand “will not and cannot be shaken” by this attack.
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Updated Date: Mar 16, 2019 09:16:36 IST