Six Pakistanis were pronounced dead by New Zealand's authorities in yesterday's terror attack on two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed on Saturday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through a press release, notified the names of the six victims as follows:
- Mr. Sohail Shahid
- Syed Jahandad Ali (Lahore)
- Syed Areeb Ahmed (Karachi)
- Mr. Mahboob Haroon (Islamabad)
- Mr. Naeem Rashid (Abbotabad)
- Mr. Talha Naeem (Abbotabad)
The press release further said that the latest information about the three missing Pakistanis will be shared once their identity is confirmed by the local authorities.
"The Crisis Management Cell at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad and the High Commission of Pakistan in Wellington, New Zealand, are working for assistance to the families including visas (if required) and transportation of the dead bodies to Pakistan, at the earliest," it added.
Rashid was identified by a relative from the video live-streamed by the attacker. He had attempted to stop the assailant as he gunned victims down in the mosque.
Dr Faisal, in a Twitter post, said that Rashid and his son will be buried in Christchurch for which arrangements have been made with the assistance of Muslim and Pakistani associations in the city.
He said that the Pakistani Mission in the city is working with the families of the other four victims for the transportation of their bodies back to Pakistan.
Earlier on Saturday, the spokesperson had released a list of Pakistanis that were considered 'missing'.
The list included:
- Zeeshan Raza
- Father of Zeeshan Raza
- Mother of Zeeshan Raza
- Haroon Mahmood, son of Shahid Mehmood
- Sohail Shahid, son of Muhammad Shabbir
- Syed Areeb Ahmed, son of Ayaz Ahmed
- Syed Jahanand Ali
- Talha Naeem
- Naeem Rashid
"Our Mission in New Zealand is trying to ascertain further details," Dr Faisal had said.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi also spoke to the media about the terror attack on Saturday.
"We are waiting for identification of [missing] Pakistanis. Obviously I'm getting more worried with time as we have not been able to contact them [the missing Pakistanis] and I fear that they might be on the list of martyrs. But nothing has been communicated to us officially yet and to say anything before an official confirmation will be speculation," he said while condemning the attack in strong words.
Crisis management cell, visa facilitation
A Crisis Management Cell has been established at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad for timely dissemination of information and assistance, a press released issued by Dr Faisal stated.
The 24/7 cell will address the developing situation, provide information and updates on the well-being of Pakistani citizens living in New Zealand, the spokesperson added.
Moreover, Pakistan’s High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner in New Zealand will also be available for guidance, round the clock, the press release said.
Furthermore, a circular was released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad notifying details regarding visa facilitation for the immediate family members of the victims.
According to the notification, family members can log in here to apply for a visit visa. Once applications are submitted, the applicants are advised to send their application numbers, along with scanned copies of their passports to Mr Moin Fudda, Honorary Consul General of New Zealand for Pakistan at:
- Email: email@example.com
- Whatsapp: +923428200200
In the event of any difficulties, for example in filling out financial details, the applicants should inform by letter that they are the relatives of the victims of the Christchurch attack, the circular further advises.
The Christchurch attack
A 28-year-old Australian-born man has been charged with murder. He is set to appear at the Christchurch District Court early Saturday. Two other men remain in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown.
The Australian man, identified by international media as Brenton Tarrant, live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away. He also published a racist 'manifesto' on social media before the attack, featuring conspiracy theories about Europeans being "displaced" by immigrants and details of two years of preparation and radicalisation leading up to the shootings.
His two targets were the Masjid al Noor mosque, where 41 people died, and a second, smaller mosque in the suburb of Linwood, where seven more died. The remaining victim succumbed in hospital.
The survivors included 17 members of Bangladesh's cricket team, whose game against New Zealand on Saturday has been cancelled, and a Palestinian man who fled for his life after seeing someone being shot in the head.
New Zealand police described the footage shot by the gunman as “extremely distressing” and warned web users that they could be liable for up to 10 years in jail for sharing such “objectionable content”.
In addition to the footage, a number of pictures were posted to a social media account showing a semi-automatic weapon covered in the names of historical figures, many of whom were involved in the killing of Muslims.
The attack has shocked New Zealanders, who are used to seeing around 50 murders a year in the entire country of 4.8 million and pride themselves on living in a secure and welcoming place.
Police, who initially imposed a city-wide lockdown, sent armed officers to a number of scenes and the threat level in the nation was raised from “low” to “high”.
In Auckland, 1,000 kilometres away, two unattended bags left near a railway station were detonated by military explosives experts.
Police also attended a property in Dunedin which they believe is linked to the attack and evacuated nearby residents. The southeastern city was named in the suspect's manifesto as the original target for his attack.
Police warned Muslims all over the country not to visit mosques “anywhere in New Zealand” in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.
Christchurch city council offered a helpline for parents looking for kids attending a mass climate change rally near the shooting.