Christchurch shooting attack survivors offered New Zealand residency

A police officer stands guard outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Reuters)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Christchurch shooting attack survivors offered New Zealand residency

  • The government had said it was considering giving visas to survivors, but no decision was announced

WELLINGTON: New Zealand will grant permanent residency to all survivors of the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques in which 50 Muslim worshippers were killed, it said on Tuesday.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with 50 counts of murder for New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting in which 50 other people at Friday prayers were wounded.

The government had said it was considering giving visas to survivors, but no decision was announced. Tuesday’s news was only released as a link on the immigration website, which some say was done to avoid any backlash by opponents of immigration.

Immigration New Zealand said a new visa category called the Christchurch Response (2019) visa had been created. People who were present at the mosques when they were attacked on March 15 can apply, as can immediate family members.

Applicants must have been living in New Zealand on the day of the attack, so the visa will not be available to tourists or short-term visitors. Applications can be made from Wednesday.

A Sri Lankan minister said on Tuesday that the Easter bombings at churches and hotels that killed 321 people appeared to be retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attacks.


Italian hostage freed after 3 years in Syria returns home

Updated 23 May 2019
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Italian hostage freed after 3 years in Syria returns home

  • The man who disappeared traveled to Turkey in October 2016
  • An official said the man was kidnapped by a criminal gang

MILAN: Italy’s defense minister says an Italian who had been held hostage in Syria for three years has been released and returned to Italy.

Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta late Wednesday confirmed Alessandro Sandrini’s arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport and thanked Italian intelligence services for their role in his liberation. Details were not disclosed.

Sandrini, who is in his early 30s, disappeared after traveling to Turkey in October 2016, and wasn’t heard from for over a year. In July 2018, a dramatic video showed Sandrini wearing an orange jumpsuit flanked by masked men brandishing automatic weapons, appealing to Italy to help free him as quickly as possible.

A local government in Syria affiliated with the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Hayat Tahir-al Sham said he had been kidnapped by a criminal gang.