Two Indians killed in NZ mosque attacks, some missing

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New Zealand's Christchurch mosque: Photo credit (AFP/Tessa Burrows)

Hyderabad/Thrissur (Kerala), March 16:  A software engineer from Hyderabad and a woman post-graduate student from Kerala’s Thrissur were among the 49 people killed in Friday’s terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch, while the whereabouts of at least two visitors from Gujarat where not known.

The shootings – the first fatal terror attack in the South Pacific island nation in many decades, was allegedly carried out by Brenton Tarrant, 28, who was charged with murder at a court in Christchurch on Saturday.

Ancy Ali, a 25-year-old married woman from Kerala’s Thrissur, was among the victims, the Kerala Police said.

Ancy, who had migrated to New Zealand with her husband Abdul Nassar last year, lived near the mosques that were attacked, an officer at the Kodungalloor police station in Thrissur told IANS.

Ancy was doing her post-graduation in Christchurch where her husband was working, the officer said.

“We received news from the Special Branch that a woman from here was injured in the shooting. We have now received the news that she has passed away,” said the officer who did not wish to be named.

Software engineer Farhaj Aslan, who was reported missing following the attacks, was confirmed dead, his family in Hyderabad said on Saturday.

“We have received information that my brother was killed in the attack,” his elder brother Kashif Ahsan told IANS.

The 31-year-old’s father Mohammed Sayeeduddin, who was hoping to hear some good news about his son, was inconsolable.

Grieving family members huddled in a corner at the family’s house in Nadeem Colony of Toli Chowki area after the family received the shocking news. Relatives and friends were pouring in to console the family.

Authorities in Christchurch informed Ahsan’s wife and her uncle, who rushed from Australia, about his death. They were at a hospital in Christchurch, waiting for some information since morning.

Ahsan was at Al Noor mosque for Friday prayers when the terrorist opened indiscriminate fire on worshippers. A father of two, he used to regularly offer Friday prayers at Al Noor mosque as he lives in a nearby neighbourhood.

Like every day, Sayeeduddin rang up his son, unaware of what was going on at the mosque. “We spoke to him over phone every day around afternoon and today being Friday, I rang him around 8 a.m. but he did not respond,” he had told IANS.

He then called his daughter-in-law, who informed him that there was an attack at the mosque and that she also tried to reach Ahsan over his mobile phone.

She later went to hospital with a picture of her husband and after a long wait, the authorities told her that he is among 19 people missing.

Ahsan, who did his MS from Auckland University, worked for various companies and had recently completely a project for a firm in Christchurch.

Meanwhile, another man from Hyderabad who was injured in the terror attack was recovering.

Ahmed Iqbal Jehangir, who was at the same mosque, sustained bullet injuries in his chest and shoulder.

“Alhamdulillah (grateful to Allah)! He is out of danger and recovering,” his brother Mohammed Khursheed Jehangir told IANS here on Saturday.

According to information received by Khursheed, a surgery was performed on Ahmed at a hospital in Christchurch to remove a bullet.

Ahmed, settled in New Zealand for 15 years, runs a Hyderabadi food restaurant near Al Noor mosque. His wife and children who stay in the same neighbourhood were safe.

Khursheed plans to leave for New Zealand to see his brother.

Officials in Gujarat said that there was no word about some people from the state who were understood to be visiting Christchurch and they were awaiting a response from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

According to unconfirmed sources, at least four visitors from Gujarat were present at the two mosques in Christchurch when the shootings took place.

Mehboob Khokhar, a retired employee of the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) and a resident of Ahmedabad’s Juhapura, had gone to one of the mosques to offer Friday prayers.

“After the attack in the mosque at Al Noor, my brother-in-law Imran and my mother-in-law Begum Akhtar rushed to the hospitals. But we still don’t know whether Khokhar is admitted somewhere or is still missing. We have not received any confirmation from the New Zealand authorities yet,” said Hafiz Patni, the son-in-law of Khokhar, who’s also a resident of Juhapura.

It is also believed that a father-son duo from Anand were also present at one of the two mosques when the attack took place. (IANS)

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