GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 15, CMC – The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping Friday said it is “shocked and appalled” at the attack on two mosques in New Zealand by a 28-year-old gunman, who opened indiscriminate fire at worshippers, some as they were kneeling at prayer.
At least 49 people have been killed and 40 others wounded.
“The Caribbean Community is shocked and appalled by the horrific attack on the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday, 15 March, which has so far resulted in 49 deaths. CARICOM condemns in the strongest possible terms this savage act of terrorism perpetrated at places of worship, where people would normally find sanctuary and peace. No ideology or philosophy could justify such gruesome acts” CARICOM said in a statement.
“Our Community stands in solidarity today with the Government and people of New Zealand, a country renowned for its diversity and tranquility. We are confident that this horrendous incident will strengthen the traditional values of peace and harmony for which New Zealand is well-known.
“The bravery of those who went to the assistance of the wounded even as the attack unfolded must be applauded, as well as the swift response by the security forces. CARICOM extends its deepest sympathies to the Government and people of New Zealand and its condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives. We also wish a full and speedy recovery to those injured,” the statement said.
The mosques targeted in Friday’s attack, the worst mass shooting in the country’s history, were the Masjid Al Noor in central Christchurch and another place of worship in the suburb of Linwood. Women and children were among those killed.
Authorities have also warned Muslims not to visit mosques “anywhere in New Zealand”.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the assault on the mosques appeared to be a well-planned “terrorist attack”, adding “this is, and will be, one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
World leaders also condemned the attack with the White House describing as a “vicious act of hate” and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said it was a “sickening act of violence”.
New Zealand police said that the 28-year-old man who has been charged with murder, will appear in court on Saturday. He is described as an Australian national.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in the aftermath of “the horrifying terrorist attack”.
“I condemn the violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack that has stolen the lives of so many innocent New Zealanders as they went about their peaceful practice of worship at their mosques in Christchurch today,” he said.
The London-based Commonwealth of which New Zealand is a member, expressed its “shock and revulsion at the terror attack”.
“It is particularly shocking that such an attack should take place in houses of prayer, and our thoughts are with the families and others close to those who have been killed, or are casualties and suffering physical or mental distress. We salute the emergency services and all who are working to deal with the aftermath of this outrage,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
“The people and nations of the Commonwealth, including New Zealand, work together to bring understanding and cohesion. And we will not be swayed from our collaboration and determination to build peace and understanding, and to counter violent extremism and hatred in all their forms and from whichever quarter they come,” she added.