New Zealand mosque terror attacker changes plea to guilty after killing 51

A gunman who killed 51 worshippers in two New Zealand mosques has changed his plea to guilty, admitting all murder charges.

Brenton Tarrant opened fire during Friday Prayers last year in New Zealand, Christchurch.

The 29-year-old had previously denied the charges and was due to go on trial in June, but has changed his plea in a shock move.

Tarrant appeared via video link at Christchurch High Court due to the current coronavirus outbreak which has placed New Zealand on lockdown.

The BBC reports, Judge Justice Mander said: "It is regrettable that the Covid-19 restrictions that presently apply do not permit victims and their families to travel to be present in the courtroom when the defendant entered his pleas of guilty."

Brenton Tarrant is accused of carrying out the murders on March 15, 2019.

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 29, admitted he alone was responsible for the deadly attacks in the Christchurch last March, according to local reports.

The attack prompted New Zealand's gun reforms, after Tarrant livestreamed the murders and uploaded on to Facebook.

Using a GoPro camera he could be seen going into the Al Noor mosque, firing his gun at least 205 times.

According to Newstalk ZB, Tarrant also admitted 40 charges of attempted murder relating to the two attacks at Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Islamic Centre in the South Island city on March 15, 2019.

In a manifesto posted by him on Facebook, he wrote explained why he carried out the attack, to avenge “thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders”.

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Factbox: German far-right attacks in recent years

BERLIN (Reuters) – A gunman with suspected far-right links shot dead nine people, some of them migrants from Turkey, in an overnight rampage through a German city before killing himself.

There have been a number of far-right attacks in recent years in Germany, with violence rising sharply in 2015, when the country took in more than one million migrants.

The German domestic intelligence agency estimated that the number of violent crimes with far-right elements rose by 3% in 2018, although attacks on centers for asylum seekers fell after a spike in 2015 and 2016.

Feb. 14, 2020 – German police arrest 12 men on suspicion of involvement in a far-right plot to overthrow the political order by means of targeted attacks.

Oct. 9, 2019 – A gunman who denounced Jews opens fire outside a German synagogue in the eastern city of Halle on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, killing two people as he livestreams his attack.

The attacker, a 27-year-old German, fatally shoots a woman outside the synagogue and a man inside a nearby kebab shop.

June 2, 2019 – Pro-immigration German politician Walter Luebcke is found lying in a pool of blood outside his home in the state of Hesse. Stephan Ernst, a German far-right sympathizer initially confesses to the crime and later retracts his confession. Luebcke was a hate figure for the far right because of his outspoken defense of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to let in refugees.

July 11, 2018 – A member of a German neo-Nazi gang is jailed for life for her part in the murders of 10 people during a campaign of racially-motivated violence. Beate Zschaepe was part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), whose members killed eight Turks, a Greek man and a German policewoman from 2000 to 2007. An official report later says police had “massively underestimated” the risk of far-right violence and that missteps had allowed the cell to go undetected.

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Merkel: Many signs shooter in Germany acted on right-wing, racist motives

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel said there were multiple clues that a suspected gunman in the German city of Hanau had acted out of racism and right-wing extremism, adding that authorities would do everything possible to clarify the background to the attack.

“There are many indications at the moment that the perpetrator acted on right-wing extremist, racist motives, out of hatred towards people of other origins, religion or appearance,” Merkel told reporters on Thursday.

“Racism is poison, hatred is poison and this poison exists in society and it is to blame for too many crimes,” she added.

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Hanau shooting suspect found dead at home after shooting which killed nine

A suspect involved in a pair of shootings which saw nine people killed in the German city of Hanau has been found dead at his home, police say.

Cops claim that a further victim has died from the shooting, pushing the death toll at the scene to nine.

Local police stormed the home of the suspect who was found dead on arrival, a second corpse lay next to him making the death toll ten.

Currently, there are no indications that the individual was working with another person.

Southeast Hesse Police tweeted: "The alleged perpetrator was lifeless at his home address in #Hanau discovered.

"Special police officers also discovered another body there.

"The investigation is ongoing. There are currently no indications of other perpetrators."

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An unknown number of gunmen left at least nine people dead after opening fire at two shisha bars in Germany.

The suspects targetted Midnight in Hanau's Kesselstadt neighbourhood before driving to the Arena Bar & Cafe.

Arena Bar & Cafe's manager said: "The victims are people we have known for years."

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Emergency services descended on Kurt-Schumacher-Platz, a central square in the town of Hanau, located to the east of Frankfurt.

The first shooting was at a bar in the city centre, while the second was in Hanau's Kesselstadt neighbourhood.

Several people were killed in the first shooting, and more in the second, regional broadcaster Hessenschau reports.

Shots were fired from a moving car around 10:15 pm local time, according to German media reports.

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Tranquil Thailand's gun culture in spotlight after shooting sprees

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Normally serene Thailand has been on edge since a rogue soldier went on the rampage in a northeastern city this month, killing 29 people in a shooting spree that ended in a standoff with police at a shopping mall.

Ten days later, a man walked into a clinic in a busy Bangkok shopping mall and gunned down his ex-wife before fleeing the scene. He was later arrested.

The killings, along with several other high-profile gun crimes, have called attention to the high rate of gun ownership, even though the number and rate of gun killings has drifted downward in recent years.

Thailand had about 10 million privately owned firearms in 2016, according to Gunpolicy.org, or one for about every seven citizens. Of those, about 4 million were illegal.

Thais complained on Twitter about their disappearing sense of personal security, with one user, @KMoungdee posting guidelines for an active response to a shooting.

“I can’t say whether Thailand has a gun problem, but it certainly has a gun culture,” said Michael Picard, Research Director of GunPolicy.org of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health.

“Guns are idolized as symbols of power and privilege, as they are expensive and not easy to legally obtain.”

While the level of gun violence is high compared to some of Thailand’s Southeast Asian neighbors, it has been declining for several years. Thailand had 1,034 gun homicides in 2016, down from 2,234 in 2012. Malaysia counted four in 2016, while the Philippines had more than 7,000 in 2011, GunPolicy.org’s latest data shows.

While overall gun violence may be declining, a feeling of insecurity has been growing in Bangkok.

Days after the mass shooting in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima on Feb. 8 and 9, a Bangkok man sent his neighborhood into panic by firing off dozens of rounds in a commercial neighborhood near a university, even though no one was hurt and the man was arrested.

In January, an elementary school teacher robbed a gold shop at a mall in Lopburi province, about two hours north of Bangkok, killing three people, including a two-year-old boy.

BUYING ONLINE

“Many commentators have lamented the rise of urban violence as Thailand’s metropolitan areas grow. It is possible that urban crime is increasing while other causes of gun-related homicides are falling,” Picard said.

Gun laws are seen as strict in Thailand, where possession of an illegal firearm carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 20,000 baht ($640).

However, enforcement is a challenge based on illegal firearms in circulation, corruption in the security sector and new channels for buying guns online.

“An emerging means of acquiring illegal firearms in Thailand is through social media platforms,” Picard said.

“This has made it even easier to acquire an illegal firearm, as essentially anyone can do it as long as they have an internet connection and a bank account.”

A secondhand .38 Smith & Wesson can be found online starting at 20,000 baht.

Legally obtaining a firearm in Thailand is about a three-month application process with the provincial department and a fee of around 1,500 baht, an Interior Ministry official said.

Most of the gun-related crimes in the last two months, including the mass shooting, were carried out with licensed guns.

But authorities say that gun-related crimes only gained attention because they occurred in close succession.

“Gun-related crimes have not increased,” Deputy police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen told Reuters.

“There are crimes that involve no weapon, and crimes that involve knives, guns and batons and they all can kill people. It’s just that the (gun-related) incidents have been happening around the same time.”

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