Businesses, schools reopen in Christchurch after shootings

March 18, 2019 08:54
Police stand guard as members of Muslim religious groups gather for prayers outside the Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand on Monday. Photo: Reuters

New Zealand police promised a high-profile presence as schools and businesses in Christchurch reopened on Monday after a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in the city last week, Reuters reports.

Families of victims were still waiting for bodies of those killed to be released after post mortems, with some of the dead to be taken overseas for burial.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police will be out in force to assure people as they returned to their weekday lives in Christchurch, with 200 extra police staff on duty.

Helicopters flew back and forth over the city on a grey, overcast Monday morning.

“You will see a highly visible police presence on the streets, around your businesses, around your schools, and even in the air, right across the country,” Bush said on Sunday.

“So you will feel safe to go about what you want to do.”

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday.

Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he is likely to face more charges.

Friday’s attack in Christchurch, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labeled terrorism, was the worst ever mass shooting in New Zealand.

Ardern’s cabinet will meet on Monday for the first time since the attacks, with a tightening of gun laws on the agenda.

“What we have a responsibility to pursue in the aftermath of this terrorist attack will include work around gun laws...there are other areas we will discuss as well,” Ardern told One News.

Parts of Christchurch, including schools, were put into lockdown on Friday after the shootings as authorities assessed whether there were further threats. Ardern said trauma support would be available at centers across the community and in schools.

Police said the airport in the southern city of Dunedin, had been reopened early on Monday after a suspicious item found on the airfield turned out to be a hoax object.

The airport had been closed on late on Sunday, with some flights diverted to other airports, after the object was found.

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