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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

Christchurch shooting: Attack is 'watershed' moment

Helen Clark said the government would need to assess changes in counter-terrorism strategy

New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Helen Clark says the country has lost its innocence and will have to assess whether its security services need more resources to counter extremism. She was speaking hours after the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that appeared to be motivated by far-right, anti-immigration zealotry

“It is a watershed moment because New Zealanders watched these events on the tv happening in other parts of the world. I suppose we’ve tended to think ‘thank heavens we live in New Zealand.’ Now such a crime has come to us. This will be a cause for profound reflection in New Zealand. How could such people have been in our community and be prepared to carry out a heinous crime like this?” she told the BBC.

Helen Clark said the mosque murders would be a "cause for profound reflection" in New Zealand. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Helen Clark said the mosque murders would be a "cause for profound reflection" in New Zealand. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“The moment of truth for us is that any extremist attack of this kind aimed at a particular community of people could occur. We are not used to this type of hate crime. That’s why we need to reflect whether our police now need resourcing to be better at foresight and detecting where these kinds of issues arise.”

Mrs Clark said New Zealand was aware of the global discussion about immigration but had been relatively affected.

“A hate crime like this, a terrorist crime like specially targeting at a particular population we have not had and every New Zealander will be reflecting on what a terrible tragedy this is today.”

“Universally this will be condemned, it will be condemned by every political party People will be asking a lot of questions – how could it have happened, how could these people got all these guns how were they able to leave improvised explosive devices, are we resourcing the police sufficiently? There will be all those questions. For today it will be a time of grief, of people offering their deepest sympathies.”

She said perhaps New Zealand had been in a “cocoon,” watching terror attacks develop aboard with little insight it could affect the country.

Updated: March 15, 2019 04:40 PM

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