Three- and four-year-old among New Zealand mosque attacks victims

Death toll rises to 50 as 36 remain in hospital police have confirmed

Mosques in New Zealand have been inundated with floral tributes and messages of solidarity after the worst mass killing in the nation’s history, which left 50 people dead. Video: Reuters

 

A three- and four-year old are among the victims of the terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand carried out on Friday.

New Zealand police have said a 50th victim of the mosque attacks in Christchurch has died.

Police commissioner Mike Bush added that 36 victims remain in hospital, with two of them in a critical condition.

Mr Bush added two people arrested around the time suspect Brenton Harrison Tarrant was apprehended are not believed to have been involved in the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday.

He said one of those people has been released, and the other has been charged with firearms offences.

Locals lay flowers and condolences in tribute to those killed and injured in Friday’s terrorist attack in Christchurch. Photograph: Dianne Manson/Getty
Locals lay flowers and condolences in tribute to those killed and injured in Friday’s terrorist attack in Christchurch. Photograph: Dianne Manson/Getty

Tarrant (28), was arraigned on Saturday on the first of many expected murder charges.

He is accused of killing 41 people at one mosque and seven more at a second. Two victims in total have died in hospital in the aftermath.

Victims

Some details of the victims have began to emerge.

Three-year-old Mucad Ibrahim was lost in the melee when the firing started at the Al Noor mosque as his older brother Abdi fled for his life and his father pretended to be dead after being shot.

The New Zealand Herald reported that the family searched in vain for the toddler at Christchurch hospital and later posted a photograph of Mucad, smiling with Abdi with the caption: “Verily we belong to God and to Him we shall return. Will miss you dearly brother”.

Abdi described his little brother as “energetic, playful and liked to smile and laugh a lot”, confessing he felt nothing but “hatred” for his killer.

Well-wishers light 49 candles as they pay respects to victims outside the hospital in Christchurch on March 16, 2019, after a shooting incident at two mosques in the city the previous day. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP
Well-wishers light 49 candles as they pay respects to victims outside the hospital in Christchurch on March 16, 2019, after a shooting incident at two mosques in the city the previous day. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP

-Four of Adan Ibrahin Dirie’s five children managed to escape Friday’s attacks, but the youngest, four-year-old Abdullahi, was killed, his uncle, Abdulrahman Hashi, 60, a preacher at Dar Al Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis, told the New Zealand Herald.

Dirie also suffered gunshot wounds and was taken to hospital. The family fled Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees and resettled in New Zealand.

“You cannot imagine how I feel,” Mr Hashi said.

He added: “He was the youngest in the family. This is a problem of extremism. Some people think the Muslims in their country are part of that, but these are innocent people.”

Sayyad Milne (14) was described as a good-natured, kind teenager. The high school student was at the Al Noor mosque for Friday prayers when the attack started, his half-sister, Brydie Henry, told the Stuff media outlet.

Sayyad was last seen “lying on the floor of the bloody mosque, bleeding from his lower body,” she said her father told her.

Sayyad’s mother, Noraini, was also in the mosque and managed to escape, Ms Henry said. The teenager has two other siblings, 15-year-old twins Shuayb and Cahaya.

“They’re all at home just waiting. They’re just waiting and they don’t know what to do,” Henry told the news site.

Husne Ara Parvin(42) died being struck by bullets while trying to shield her wheelchair-bound husband, Farid Uddin Ahmed, her nephew Mahfuz Chowdhury told The Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper.

Mr Chowdhury said Uddin had been ill for years and Ms Parvin took him to the mosque every other Friday. She had taken him to the mosque for men while she went to the one for women. Mr Chowdhury said relatives in New Zealand told him when the shootings began, Ms Parvin rushed to her husband’s mosque to protect him. He survived.

The Bangladeshi couple had moved to New Zealand sometime after 1994, Mr Chowdhury said.

As the shootings unfolded, Naeem Rashid (50) is seen on video trying to tackle the gunman, according to his brother, Khurshid Alam.

Mr Alam told the BBC: “He was a brave person, and I’ve heard from a few people there, there were few witnesses . they’ve said he saved a few lives there by trying to stop that guy.”

Mr Rashid’s son, Talha Rashid (21), is also among the dead. Pakistan’s ministry of public affairs confirmed their deaths in a tweet.

The elder Rashid was a teacher in Christchurch and was from Abbottabad, Pakistan. His son was 11-years-old when his family moved to New Zealand. He had a new job and planned to get married.

Mr Rashid’s brother, who lives in Pakistan’s garrison city of Abbottabad, Dr Mohammad Khursheed, received a call from his sister-in-law telling him of his brother’s death.

Dr Khursheed said his brother had already bought his plane ticket to Pakistan for a May family reunion. “He was very brave. He snatched the gun and I think he saved many lives,” Dr Khursheed said.

Haji Daoud Nabi (71)moved his family to New Zealand in 1979 to escape the Soviet-Afghan war. Days before the shootings, his son, Omar, recalled his father speaking about the importance of unity.

“My father said how important it is to spread love and unity among each other and protect every member of the society we live in,” Omar told Al-Jazeera.

He told the news network his father ran an Afghan Association and helped refugees settle in to a new country.

“He used to make them feel at home.”

Syed Areeb Ahmed had recently moved from his house in Karachi, Pakistan for a job in New Zealand to help support his family back home. On Saturday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry informed his family that he was among those killed during the mosque attack.

One of his uncles, Muhammad Muzaffar Khan, described him as deeply religious, praying five times a day. But education was always his first priority, Khan said.

“He had done Charted Accountancy from Pakistan. He was the only son to his parents. He had only one younger sister ... He had only started his career, but the enemies took his life.”

Family members, relatives, and friends have gathered at Mr Ahmed’s house to express their condolences. His body is expected to arrive there in coming days.

Junaid Mortara (35) is believed to have died in the first mosque attack.

Javed Dadabhai said his 35-year-old cousin was the breadwinner of the family, supporting his mother, his wife and their three children, aged one to five. Mr Mortara had inherited his father’s convenience store, which was covered in flowers on Saturday.

Mr Mortara was an avid cricket fan, and would always send a sparring text with relatives over cricket matches when Canterbury faced Auckland.

Farid Ahmed has said he refuses to turn his back on his adopted home, despite losing his 45-year-old wife, Husna Ahmed (45), in the Al Noor mosque attack. They had separated to go to the bathroom when the shooting happened.

The gunman livestreamed the massacre on the internet, and Mr Ahmed later saw a video of his wife being shot. A police officer confirmed she died.

Despite the horror, Mr Ahmed — originally from Bangladesh — still considers New Zealand to be a great country.

“I believe that some people, purposely, they are trying to break down the harmony we have in New Zealand with the diversity,” he said.

“But they are not going to win. They are not going to win. We will be harmonious.”

Software Engineer Farhaj Ahsan (30) moved to New Zealand six years ago from the city of Hyderabad in India, where his parents still live, according to the Mumbai Mirror.

“We received the disturbing news,” Ahsan’s father, Mohammed Sayeeduddin told the newspaper on Saturday. Friends and family had been trying to reach Ahsan since the attack.

Ahsan was married and had a three-year-old daughter and infant son.

Ali Elmadani and his wife emigrated from the United Arab Emirates in 1998. The retired Christchurch engineer always told his children to be strong and patient, so that’s what they are trying to do after the tragedy, his daughter, Maha Elmadani, told Stuff.

“He considered New Zealand home and never thought something like this would happen here,” she said.

She said her mother “is staying as strong as possible. My younger brother isn’t doing too well with the news.”

A handwritten cardboard sign outside Mohammad Imran Khan’s restaurant, the Indian Grill in Christchurch, on Sunday said simply CLOSED. A handful of pink flowers laid nearby.

The owner of the convenience store next door, JB’s Discounter, Jaiman Patel, said he helped the staff with the keys after the terrorist attack that claimed Mr Khan’s life.

“He’s a really good guy. I tried to help him out with the set-up and everything,” Mr Patel said. “We also put the key out for them when the terrorists come, and sorted it out for him.”

Mr Khan had a son who was 10- or 11- years-old, Mr Patel said.

The two were business neighbours who helped each other out when needed, he said.

“We are helping each other. It’s so sad.”

An Iraqi who born in Abu Dhabi was killed in the attack.

His mother wrote on social media that Hussein al-Umari was killed.

His family and friends had been seeking information on Mr al-Umari, in his mid-30s, who had failed to return after going to Friday prayers at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.

His mother, an Iraqi calligraphy artist named Janna Ezzat, wrote on Facebook that her son had become a martyr.

Ms Ezzat wrote: “Our son was full of life and always put the needs of others in front of his own.”