CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The Latest on the mosque shootings in New Zealand (all times local):
Police in New Zealand say they have completed autopsies on all 50 victims of last week’s mosque shootings, and have formally identified 12 of them. Six of the identified victims have been returned to their families.
Four days after the attack, relatives were anxiously waiting Tuesday for word on when they can bury their loved ones.
Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said authorities hope to release all the bodies by Wednesday, and police have said authorities are working with pathologists and coroners to complete the task as soon as they can.
Police said in a statement that their “absolute priority is to get this right and ensure that no mistakes are made.”
New Zealand’s prime minister is vowing to block any attempt at self-promotion by the white supremacist accused of killing 50 people in mosque shootings, after he dismissed his lawyer and opted to represent himself in court.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged Tuesday that the suspect’s move to represent himself could allow him a platform for his racist views during the trial. Ardern said she was determined to prevent that and would not speak his name.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant dismissed his lawyer on Saturday. He has been charged with one count of murder and a judge said he is likely to face more charges over the shootings.
Elsewhere in New Zealand, police are probing a suspicious blaze that’s destroyed a small gun club.
Fire crews were called to the scene in the North Island town of Kaitaia at about 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
Police say no one was hurt, but it’s being treated as suspicious.
New Zealand’s international spy agency has confirmed it had not received any relevant information or intelligence ahead of last week’s deadly mass shooting on two mosques.
The Government Communications Security Bureau also said in a statement on Monday night that it welcomed an inquiry that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered into intelligence and security services that failed to detect the risk from the attacker or his plans.
There have been concerns intelligence agencies were overly focused on the Muslim community in detecting and preventing security risks.
On Friday, a white supremacist went on a shooting rampage in two mosques in Christchurch, killing 50 people.
Australia’s prime minister has urged world leaders to crack down on social media companies that broadcast terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the New Zealand mosque shootings.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to G-20 chairman Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling for agreement on “clear consequences” for companies whose platforms are used to facilitate and normalize horrific acts.
Australian Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder over the attack on two mosques in Christchurch that killed 50 people and left another 50 injured.
The attacks were livestreamed on Facebook.
Morrison says: “Social media companies are international businesses and it’s up to the international community to force them to act.”