New Zealand prime minister says shooting suspect was a licensed gun owner

Flowers left at cordon

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after 49 people were killed and dozens wounded in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques.

"There is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others", said the judge, whose name was not reported by the AP.

He was reprimanded without plea until his next appearance at New Zealand's High Court on April 5.

CHRISTCHURCH, March 16 ― The main suspect in New Zealand's worst peacetime mass shooting meant to continue the rampage before he was caught by police, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today.

"I think we must be clear that the context of the gun laws between New Zealand and Australia are very different", Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday.

The New Zealand Prime Minister also said the firearms used in the mosque shootings appeared to have been modified.

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.

Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest city, with a population of about 375,000 people. "I would not describe him as a long-term resident".

"All of those (involved) know just how important it is to families for them to be reunited with their loved ones as quickly as they can".

The primary suspect was an Australian citizen who "travelled sporadically to New Zealand and stayed for varied amount of time", Ardern told reporters.

Ardern said Tarrant was a licensed gun owner who bought the five guns used in the crimes legally.

Police officers search the area near the Masjid Al Noor mosque site of one of the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand Saturday

An injured person is loaded into an ambulance following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Police said IEDs, improvised explosive devices, were found with a vehicle they stopped.

When the gunman entered the Al Noor mosque, there were around 400 people inside.

Huang Yan, the manager of the Christchurch branch of China's Southern Airlines, told Xinhua the mass shooting would bring negative impact on New Zealand tourism as Christchurch has just been recovered from the aftermath of the 2011 deadly quake.

While the gun lobby has significant sway in New Zealand, he said, it's not as significant as the gun-rights lobby spear-headed by the National Rifle Association in the United States.

"We appear to primarily be dealing with one primary perpetrator, but we want to make sure that we don't take anything for granted in ensuring New Zealanders' safety", Prime Minister Ardern said. "They're putting up all these messages about how the Muslim community is a part of us", she said.

Forty-one people were killed at the Al Noor mosque.

Thirty nine people remain in hospital, 11 of whom are in critical condition in an intensive care unit.

Facebook, Twitter and Google scrambled to take down the gunman's video, which was widely available on social media for hours after the bloodbath.

At first, Mr Taylor and his colleagues had no idea what was happening, initially believing the alarms, sirens and general panic sweeping through the New Zealand city were signs of another quake, similar to the 6.2-level seismic disaster that destroyed massive swathes of the city in 2011.

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