NEW DELHI: At least nine Nine Indian nationals or persons of Indian origin are feared missing in New Zealand following the deadly terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch which killed 49 people, unofficial sources said.
Forty-nine people have been reported killed so far and at least 48 others have been wounded in the twin shootings according to New Zealand police, which said it has taken four persons into custody – three men and one woman.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the terrorist attack stating that hatred and violence have no place in diverse and democratic socieites. In a letter to New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Modi expressed India’s solidarity with the people of New Zealand at this difficult time.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj condemed the dastardly terror attack and put out the helpline numbers of the Indian High Commission in New Zealand tagging High Commissioner Sanjiv Kohli for Indians requiring assistance. “Any Indian requiring assistance should contact Indian High Commission in New Zealand on 021803899 or 021850033” Swaraj said.
In his Twitter account (unverified) Kohli said, “As per updates received from multiple sources there are 9 missing persons of Indian nationality/ origin. Official confirmation still awaited. Huge crime against humanity. Our prayers with their families.”
Official confirmation about Indian casualties may take a while to come in.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “Our Mission is in touch with local authorities to ascertain more details. It is a sensitive matter and therefore we can’t give confirmed numbers/names till we are absolutely certain.”
“Assistance is being provided to the next of kin of those affected in getting appropriate visa to New Zealand. We will keep you updated as and when we have additional information,” diplomatic sources said.
Meanwhile, one person in Hyderabad Khurshid Jahangir told ANI that his Ahmed Jahangir was injured in the shooting.”My brother was injured and is now recovering in a hospital. He is currently undergoing surgery. We have seen in the video he has been shot in the chest. We’re trying to reach the Embassy,” Khurshid Jahangir told ANI.
Another person Mohammed Sayeeduddin, father of Farhaj Ahsan who is missing since shootings in Christchurch told ANI, “My son went to the mosque to offer Friday prayers and has not returned yet. About 17 people are still missing. Request government to find about the whereabouts and well being of my son.”
Asaduddin Owaisi, President of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party and Member of Parliament tweeted about the incident “A video from #ChristChurch shows one Ahmed Jehangir who was shot. His brother Iqbal Jehangir is a resident of Hyderabad & would like to go to NZ for Ahmed’s family,” said Owaisi requesting the Working President of TRS and Sushma Swarj for visa assistance to the family.
“I request @KTRTRS @TelanganaCMO @MEAIndia @SushmaSwaraj to make necessary arrangements for the Khursheed family, ” Owaisi said in a tweet followed by passport details of the injured person’s brother.
This was followed by another tweet where he thanked Swaraj for personally updating him about MEA’s efforts in assisting Ahmed’s & Ahsan’s families to reach New Zealand.
Two men from Vadodara in Gujarat are also feared missing after the Christchurch attacks. Their family has sought help in tracing them.
In the worst ever terror attack in New Zealand, multiple gunmen carried out indiscriminate shootings at two mosques in Christchurch during the Friday prayers, leaving 49 people dead and at least 48 wounded, besides giving a scare to the Bangladesh cricket team which had a narrow escape.
Witnesses said there were around 400 people in the Al Noor Mosque at the time of the attack and they ran for their lives after hearing gunshots. Around 100 were there in Linwood Avenue Mosque.
Using automatic weapons, the gunmen, four of whom have been taken into custody, launched a “well-planned” attack on the mosques when devotees had assembled for the weekly prayers.
One of the perpetrators — a white man apparently in the age group of 30 or 40 – live-streamed his gruesome act for about 17 minutes.
Two others arrested at the scene with guns are being investigated. A fourth person arrested may have had nothing to do with the attack, police said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that at least one attacker is an Australian citizen.