A gunman involved in a terror attack in which at least 49 people were shot dead at two New Zealand mosques had ‘for Rotherham’ written on the ammunition clips he used.
Brenton Tarrant, aged 28, from Australia, has been named in media reports in his home country of Australia as the gunman who live-streamed the attack in Christchurch on Facebook as he shot victims in mosques.
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In a 74-page manifesto, believed to have been written by Tarrant, he describes himself as an ‘ordinary white man’ who ‘decided to take a stand’.
He describes anti-immigrant motives, saying the victims were a ‘large group of invaders’ who he says ‘seek to occupy my peoples lands and ethnically replace my own people (sic)’.
It also cites the rape of British women by ‘European women invaders’ and includes links to the Rotherham sex abuse scandal.
Rotherham hit the headlines when an independent report into child sexual exploitation in the town published in 2014 found that 1,400 children were groomed and abused by men of predominantly Pakistan heritage while those in authority failed to act.
A picture of an ammunition clip he posted on Twitter beforehand featured the words ‘for Rotherham’.
The message could also be seen in Facebook footage of the terror attack, which was broadcast live.
Posting on Twitter, Rotherham Council leader, Councillor Chris Reade, said: “Awful news from Christchurch this morning. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and of course first and foremost with the Muslim community.
“All decent people will be revolted by the sickening ideology of those who seek to divide us.”
He added: “That the perpetrator of this violence apparently sought in some twisted way to use our town's history to justify his actions makes this personal to us.
“Rotherham has already seen far too much violence. Our community will continue to stand united for decency and the rule of law.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the shootings as ‘one of New Zealand's darkest days’.
She added: "What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.
"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack."
Firearms were recovered from both mosques in the wake of the terror attack, which New Zealand police commissioner, Mike Bush, described as a ‘very well-planned event’.
A number of improvised explosive devices found on a vehicle after the shootings were defused by police.
In a message to the Governor-General of New Zealand, the Queen said: "I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives."
Emergency services were alerted to the mass shootings at about 1.40pm local time (12.40am GMT today).
All schools in the city were put into lockdown as the situation unfolded.
Forty-one people were killed at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch, seven were killed at the suburban Linwood Masjid Mosque, and one person died at Christchurch Hospital.