Christchurch shootings: Brother and uncle of victims speaks out

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The brother of a Pakistani man who was killed during Friday’s mosque attacks in New Zealand has told the BBC he has no words to describe the pain.

“It’s like cutting your limb off,” Khursheed Alam said. His brother and nephew were among six Pakistanis who died.

Forty-nine people were killed at the two mosques in Christchurch.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a self-described white supremacist, has been charged with one count of murder.

He appeared in court on Saturday in a white prison shirt and handcuffs, smiling for the cameras. Further charges are expected to be made against him.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Mr Tarrant had a firearms licence and owned five guns, adding: “Our gun laws will change.”

He has been remanded in custody without a plea and is due to appear in court again on 5 April.

The court judge ruled that the suspect’s face should be pixellated in photographs and filming to preserve his fair trial rights.

Two others are in custody. None of those detained had a criminal record.

Pain of relatives

Naeem Rashid, 50, and his 21-year-old son Talha had been living in New Zealand since 2010.

Mr Rashid has been hailed as a hero on social media after being seen apparently trying to tackle the attacker at Al Noor mosque before being shot.

His brother, in the northern Pakistani city of Abbottabad, told the BBC’s Secunder Kermani he was proud of his actions, before adding: “It’s a still a shock for us, whatever hero he becomes.

“It’s our pride now, but still the loss – it’s like cutting your limb off really.”

Officials in New Zealand are now carrying out the difficult task of identifying those who have died.

But from the relatives’ accounts, it is becoming clear they came from countries around the world, and that many of them were refugees who thought they had found safety in New Zealand.

Many families who have not yet made contact with their loved ones are enduring a terrible wait for news.

One of the survivors, Ali, told the BBC he had been praying at Al Noor mosque with his brother and father.

He and his brother escaped injury, but their father was in an induced coma having been shot in the back trying to protect his sons.

“He was the one who took a bullet for me,” Ali said.

Some of the other victims were:

  • Sayyad Milne, 14, who wanted to be a footballer when he grew up
  • Daoud Nabi, 71, who is believed to have thrown himself in front of other people in the mosque to protect them
  • Khaled Mustafa, a refugee from the war in Syria
  • Hosne Ara, 42, killed while searching for her husband who uses a wheelchair – he survived

 

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