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New Zealand massacre death toll rises to 50 after body found in mosque

By Allen Cone
New Zealand massacre death toll rises to 50 after body found in mosque
A woman places flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. on Saturday. Photo by Mick Tsikas/EPA

March 16 (UPI) -- The death toll in the twin shootings at two mosques in New Zealand rose to 50 after one body was found in one of the buildings, police said Sunday.

"As of last night we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes and in doing so we have located a further victim," New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said at a news conference Sunday morning.

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In addition, the number of injured in Friday's attacks in Christchurch rose to 50, including 36 people hospitalized, one of whom is a child.

"This is not something we expected to see in our environment," Greg Robertson, chief of surgery for the local health district, said. "We do see gunshot wounds. We do see all these type of injuries. But 40 or 50 people in a day is more than what we should see.

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"Horror, stunned, anger. Those are some of the words that I've sort of had related to me at this point."

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian citizen, has been arrested and charged with murder. He is scheduled appear in the High Court on April 5.

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Friday's court appearance was closed to the public because of the heightened security risk and his face was blurred in images.

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He wore a white prison jumpsuit and remained silent during the proceedings.

Police believe the gunman killed 41 people at the Al Noor mosque then drove about 3 miles across town and attacked the Linwood mosque, killing seven people. One person died later in a hospital.

Security will continue to patrol the mosques until there is no threat, police told TVNZ.com.

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One woman who has been released without a charge and a man has been charged with firearms offences. Police do not believe either of them were involved in the attacks.

Abdul Aziz, 48, is being hailed as a hero for preventing more deaths during the attack at Linwood mosque around 1:55 p.m.

He grabbed a credit card machine to chase the suspect and ran outside screaming "Come here!"

The suspect went into a car and sped off.

Aziz said he left Afghanistan as a refugee as a boy and lived for more than 25 years in Australia before moving to New Zealand a couple of years ago.

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Tarrant wrote a 74-page manifesto that was anti-Muslim and references to Internet radicalization, NBC News reported.

In the documents, Tarrant said he was inspired by right-wing extremists in the United States, including Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, who killed nine people in 2015. Also, the manifesto contains conspiracy theories and echoes white nationalism seen at protests that resulted in violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

Tarrant wrote his true "inspiration" came from Knight Anders Breivik, who killed 77 in a terrorist attack in Oslo, Norway, in 2011.

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