‘Hello, lads’

Seconds later panic spread through Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque as those inside realised what was happening and tried desperately to flee or find shelter from the bullets. By the time the carnage ended, 41 people lay dead, with seven more killed at an Islamic centre a few miles away. A 49th victim died in hospital, where another 48 were being treated, many for gunshot wounds. As New Zealanders tried to come to terms with the dreadful events they had witnessed, Jacinda Ardern, their prime minister, described it as one of the country’s “darkest days”. Western leaders from Donald Trump to Angela Merkel expressed solidarity with the people of New Zealand, deploring what the White House called a “vicious act of hate”. Pope Francis called the attacks “senseless acts of violence”. It had started routinely enough, with 300 people attending Friday prayers inside the Al Noor mosque, located close to the city’s Hagley Park. Farid Ahmed, who was among the congregation, would later describe it as “peaceful, calm and quiet. As it is when the sermon starts, you could hear a pin drop”. But at 1.40pm, gunfire broke out. “It started in the main room,” said Mr Ahmed. “I was in… Read full this story

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