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71 year-old who jumped into gunfire to save others is first named victim of New Zealand attacks

49 people were killed in the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch yesterday.

People place flowers to mourn the victims of the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand
People place flowers to mourn the victims of the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

AN AFGHAN MAN who died after reportedly jumping into gunfire to save his fellow worshippers is among the first named victims of yesterday’s New Zealand gun attacks.

A right-wing extremist, has been charged over the attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, which left 49 people dead and dozens more injured.

The attacks have prompted an outpouring of grief and deep shock in the usually peaceful country, which prides itself on welcoming refugees fleeing violence or persecution.

Throughout the day people laid flowers at a makeshift memorial just beyond the police cordon around the Al Noor mosque, where most of the victims died. 

Many offerings were accompanied by handwritten letters laden with sadness and disbelief, from residents of what one local driver called the “city of sorrow”.

“I am so sorry that you were not safe here. Our hearts are breaking for your loss,” read one of the notes.

An imam who was leading prayers at the Linwood mosque at the time of the attack said the Muslim community would not be shaken by the massacre.

“It was a very bad day, not just all of us, all of New Zealand,” said Ibrahim AbdulHalim. But, he added: “We still love this country”.

The attacks have been called terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and are thought to be the deadliest attack directed against Muslims in the West in modern times.

Pakistan New Zealand Mosque Shooting Relatives look the pictures of Pakistani citizen Rashid Naeem, and his son Talha Naeem, who were reportedly killed in the Christchurch mosque shooting Source: AP/PA Images

Speaking outside a court this morning, the son of 71-year-old Daoud Nabi, the first victim to be named, demanded justice for his late father, who believed New Zealand to be a “slice of paradise”.

Nabi had lived in New Zealand for more than 40 years after fleeing Afghanistan as a refugee in the late 1970s.

His son Omar learnt that his father had died after trying to shield someone else from a bullet.

“I got told by my best friend’s father… that he leaped on somebody else to save their life,” he told Stuff.co.nz.

“He jumped in the firing line to save somebody else’s life and he has passed away.”

Another of Daoud’s sons, Yama, was on the way to the mosque when he bumped into a friend who told him “your father saved my life”, according to Australian newspaper The Age.

“I never thought it would happen in New Zealand. It’s a peaceful country,” Yama Nabi told AFP, tears welling up in his eyes. 

There were reports on social media that Daoud Nabi had opened the door to the terrorist, greeting him with the words “hello brother”.

‘Brave little soldier’

Another victim, 14 year-old Sayyad Milne died at the Al Noor mosque which he attended with his mother and friends every Friday, the New Zealand Herald reports.

His father John Milne said his son’s death hadn’t been officially confirmed, but he’d been told the teenager had been seen lying on the floor of the mosque, bleeding. 

“I’ve lost my little boy, he’s just turned 14,” he told the paper, adding that his son had been a keen footballer.

“A brave little soldier. It’s so hard… to see him just gunned down by someone who didn’t care about anyone or anything.”

CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUE SHOOTING Members of the public mourn across the road from the Al Noor Masjid on Deans Rd in Christchurch Source: AAP/PA Images

Jordanian barber Wasseim Alsati and his daughter Alin, four, are both in hospital with serious injuries after being shot at the Al Noor mosque. 

In a video filmed from his hospital bed Alsati asked people to “please pray for me and my daughter”, who has been flown to Auckland for treatment.

A friend of Wasseim’s, Carolyne Phillips, who was at the hospital with him, said he had undergone surgery for a perforated bowel, an injury to his pelvis and to get shrapnel and bone out of his hip socket.

Alsati reportedly moved to New Zealand from Jordan in 2014.

© AFP 2019, with reporting by Stephen McDermott

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