A self-proclaimed white supremacist has been charged with murder after 49 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand. Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, appeared in court this morning, and has been remanded in custody. Two other people are being questioned by police.
Tarrant left a 74-page manifesto on social media, identifying himself as a white nationalist and neo-nazi who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.
Titled "The Great Replacement," the manifesto repeats far-right conspiracy theories about how white Europeans are being deliberately replaced by non-white immigrants.
The self-described "ethno-nationalist" also took "inspiration" from other right-wing extremists including Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011.
He described Oswald Mosley, a notorious British fascist leader and anti-Semite from the 1930s, as "the person from history closest to my own beliefs".
Using a helmet camera, he live-streamed his rampage at the Al Noor Mosque, which was full of Friday worshippers. At least 41 people were killed as he sprayed them with bullets, sometimes firing at victims he had already cut down. Several more worshippers were killed in an attack on a second mosque in the city a short time later.
Police gave no details about the three people in custody except to say that none had been on any watch list. Officers also said two improvised bombs had been found in a car and made safe by the military.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," noting that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees. "From what we know, it does appear to have been well-planned."
She pronounced it "one of New Zealand's darkest days."
The attack shocked the nation of 5 million people, a country that is so peaceful police officers rarely carry firearms. New Zealand is also generally considered to be welcoming to migrants and refugees. (AP, AFP)