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Australian police raid properties linked to New Zealand terror suspect

A police officer stands outside the Linwood Mosque, in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 18, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Australian counter-terrorism police on Monday searched two homes linked to the family members of the gunman accused of killing 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch to obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their investigation into the terror attack.

The attacker, identified by authorities as Australia-born Brenton Tarrant, 28, targeted immigrants during March 15 prayers. Witnesses said victims were shot at close range.

He was arrested shortly after entering two mosques — Masjid Al Noor and Linwood — with high-powered weapons and shooting dead 50 people, including five Indians.

 

The New South Wales (NSW) Joint Counter Terrorism Team on March 18 two properties on the state’s mid-north coast.

One of the properties being searched belongs to Sharon Tarrant, the mother of the attacker.

“Around 8.30 this morning [local time] officers from the NSW JCTT executed a search warrant at a home in the town of Sandy Beach, near Coffs Harbour. A short time later, a second search warrant was executed at another home in Lawrence near Maclean,” the statement said.

“The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their ongoing investigation,’ it said adding “the family of the Australian man arrested in Christchurch continues to assist police with their inquiries.’

Police further assured the community that that there was no information to suggest a current or impending threat related to this search warrants.

The NSW JCTT comprises representatives from the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the NSW Crime Commission.

‘Obviously not of sound mind’

In an interview with Nine News, Tarrant’s family expressed shock and apologised for his role in the shooting.

His uncle, Terry Fitzgerald, mourned the victims in Christchurch.

 

“We are so sorry for the families over there, for the dead and injured,” he said.

His grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, told reporters she could not fathom how “somebody in our family would do anything like this”.

The 81-year-old said her grandson was “obviously not of sound mind”.

The family had dinner with Tarrant 12 months ago for his sister’s birthday in Grafton.

Tarrant, a self-avowed white supremacist, lived in Grafton, 500 km northwest of Sydney, where he worked as a personal trainer at Big River Gym. He moved to the New Zealand city of Dunedin at some point in the last two or three years.

Police: Gunman acted alone, may have had support

Police Commissioner Mike Bush. File

Police Commissioner Mike Bush. File   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says gunman who killed 50 people and wounded others at two Christchurch mosques acted alone but may have had support.

Tarrant was arrested moments after the shootings on Friday. He was charged with a single count of murder and a judge said on March 16 he may face other charges.

Mr. Bush said at a March 18 news conference that “We believe absolutely there was only one attacker responsible for this.” But he added that the support of other people hasn’t been ruled out and is “a very, very important part of our investigation”.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says gun law reforms will be announced within 10 days following the Christchurch shootings that killed 50 people.

She said Cabinet Ministers had met and made an in-principle decision to tighten gun ownership but details still need to be worked out.


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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 6:52:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/australian-police-raid-properties-linked-to-new-zealand-terror-suspect/article26565948.ece

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