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Police look at possible tie between New Zealand shooting, Austria

By Clyde Hughes
Ambulances and police respond to a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15. Attacks at two mosques killed 50 people. Photo by Martin Hunter/EPA-EFE
Ambulances and police respond to a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15. Attacks at two mosques killed 50 people. Photo by Martin Hunter/EPA-EFE

March 26 (UPI) -- Authorities are looking for a possible connection between this month's shooting attack at two New Zealand mosques and an Austrian man.

Fifty people were killed in the March 15 attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Police named the gunman as Australian Brendan Tarrant.

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The Austrian man, Martin Sellner, said his home has been searched -- and noted that his Identitarian Movement received a donation from Tarrant before the attack. Sellner said he was attempting to contact his attorney about the donation when Austrian authorities arrived and took several electronic devices.

The Identitarian Movement is considered a far-right and white nationalist movement.

RELATED New Zealand PM launches major inquiry into Christchurch attack

Sellner denied any connection with Tarrant or the shooting and said he "had nothing to do with the attack." He added that he would donate the money allegedly donated by Tarrant to charity.

Austrian Interior Ministry Christoph Poelzl acknowledged the country's domestic intelligence agency searched Sellner's property in Vienna at the request of prosecutors.

"Any connection between the Christchurch attacker and members of the Identitarians in Austria needs to be comprehensively and ruthlessly investigated," Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted.

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"It is important that the independent justice system can use all necessary means and resources to conduct its investigation together with the security services and expose these networks. There needs to be total clarity about all extremist activities," Kurz said.

Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party, called for a detailed inquiry for connections to the Christchurch shooting.

"All suspicions of extremism are acted upon, whether they are right, left or religiously motivated," Strache wrote on Twitter. "Fanaticism has no place in our society."

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