The horrifying attacks in Christchurch today have taken the lives of 49 people causing grief and consternation across the world.
The Queen – who is head of state for the Commonwealth of Nations, which includes New Zealand, has today led the outpouring of grief and support for the victims in the wake of the sickening attacks.
Prince Charles said he and his wife were ‘utterly horrified to hear of the most barbaric attacks,’ adding it was, ‘beyond belief that so many should have been killed and injured.’
In a message to the Governor-General of New Zealand, the Queen said she was ‘deeply saddened by the appalling events’ and sent the condolences of herself and Prince Philip.
The Queen (pictured at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 11) expressed her condolences and said she was ‘saddened by the appalling events’
In a message to the Governor-General of New Zealand, the Queen said: ‘I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives’
Prince Charles (pictured with the Duchess of Cornwall in November), said he and his wife were ‘utterly horrified to hear of the most barbaric attacks’
The Prince of Wales said it was ‘beyond belief that so many should have been killed and injured’
In a message to the people of New Zealand, the Prince of Wales today said the ‘appalling atrocity is an assault on all of us who cherish religious freedom.’
In a letter, he wrote: ‘Both my wife and I were utterly horrified to hear of the most barbaric attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, which resulted in the cruel and tragic loss of so many people’s lives.
‘It is beyond all belief that so many should have been killed and injured at their place of worship and our most special and heartfelt sympathy goes out to all the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives.
‘This appalling atrocity is an assault on all of us who cherish religious freedom, tolerance, compassion and community. I know that the people of New Zealand will never allow hate and division to triumph over these things they hold dear.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families, the first responders, the people of Christchurch and all New Zealanders at this most heartbreaking of times.
‘HRH The Prince of Wales.’
Kensington Palace has also released a heartfelt message to the Governor-General of New Zealand, from the Queen.
It it, she writes: ‘I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives.
‘I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured.
‘At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.
Mrs May tweeted: ‘On behalf of the UK, my deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand after the horrifying terrorist attack in Christchurch. My thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence.’
Mrs May and her ministers have been tweeting about the horrifying attacks as the UK woke up to the news
Theresa May has sent a message of support from Britain today in the wake of the New Zealand terror attacks
The House of Commons held a minute’s silence at 11am in solidarity with the victims.
Her ministers have also reacted with shock.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Our hearts go out to the people of New Zealand following the news of this terrible act in Christchurch.
‘NZ is one of the most peaceful, peace-loving and generous nations in the world.
‘Your friends in the UK stand with you today in deepest sympathy.’
Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted he was ‘absolutely heartbroken to hear about this attack on peaceful worshippers’.
Mr Javid added: ‘We stand with New Zealand and Muslims across the world against all forms of racism and anti-Muslim hatred. We will not let extremists divide us #ChristchurchAttack.
‘A horrific terror attack. We will never let the terrorists win and divide our communities. My thoughts and prayers with the victims and families of all those affected.’
European Council President Donald Tusk described the attack as ‘harrowing news’ and said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can ‘count on our solidarity’.
He tweeted: ‘Harrowing news from New Zealand overnight.
‘The brutal attack in Christchurch will never diminish the tolerance and decency that New Zealand is famous for.
‘Our thoughts in Europe are with the victims and their families. PM @jacindaardern can count on our solidarity.’
A man who identified himself as Brenton Tarrant (pictured) live-streamed the massacre of dozens of people in Christchurch, New Zealand
British police are providing ‘reassurance patrols’ around mosques following the deadly gun rampage in New Zealand.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and Britain’s top counter-terror officer said the police presence would be stepped up as people went to Friday prayers.
Mr Khan said: ‘I want to reassure the Muslim communities in London. I have been in touch with the Met Police. There will be highly visible policing around mosques today, as well as armed response officers, as Londoners go to pray.’
Neil Basu, the Met’s national policing chief for counter-terrorism, added: ‘We will be stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques and increasing engagement with communities of all faith, giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves.
‘Together with our intelligence partners we continually monitor the varied threats we face, including to and around places of worship and specific communities across the country,’ he said.
Harun Khan, head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said British Muslims preparing for Friday prayers ‘do so with the anxiety as to whether our mosques and communities are safe in the face of unabated Islamophobia and hostility against Muslims’.
The MCB said two mosques in Newcastle and Manchester had been targeted by vandals who spray-painted Nazi swastika symbols in the past two months.
London has previously heightened security measures around mosques following terror attacks.
Extra patrols were deployed after the Finsbury Park attack on June 19, 2017 which saw Darren Osborne drive a van into pedestrians leaving a Muslim welfare centre near the well-known Finsbury Park Mosque in north London.
One person was killed and several others were injured. Osborne was arrested at the scene and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Three shootings have taken place in Christchurch on Friday afternoon, two at mosques and another at Christchurch Hospital
The gunman, who identified himself as Brenton Tarrant from Grafton, NSW, Australia, stormed the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country’s South Island about 1.30pm, opening fire with a semi-automatic shotgun and a rifle on hundreds of worshippers attending Friday prayers.
A sickening 17-minute video of the unfolding horror shows the self-confessed white supremacist dressed in army fatigues firing mercilessly at people scrambling to flee, and calmly re-loading when he runs out of bullets.
At about the same time, there was a second shooting at Masjid mosque in Linwood, where seven more were killed.
In the aftermath of the bloody attacks, three men and one woman were arrested, with police charging ‘one man in his late 20s’ with murder.
One of them was arrested while wearing a suicide vest, while a man wearing military fatigues was arrested outside Papanui High School.
Of the 49 fatalities, 41 were killed at the Al Noor Mosque and seven at the Linwood Avenue mosque. Three were outside the mosque itself. A 49th died in hospital.
A further 48 people were rushed to Christchurch Hospital with gunshot wounds, 20 in a critical condition.
New Zealand was placed on ‘high alert’ following the attacks.