Pakistan to award ‘courage’ of citizen killed in Christchurch

Nadeem Rashid, brother of Naeem Rashid who was killed along with his son Talha Naeem in the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand. (Reuters)
Updated 17 March 2019
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Pakistan to award ‘courage’ of citizen killed in Christchurch

  • Video of the massacre shows one man gunned down as he approaches the shooter, while others flee
  • The man is believed to be Naeem Rashid, although his face is blurred in the footage

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani victim of the Christchurch attack who apparently tried to tackle the gunman before being shot dead will be awarded posthumously in his home country for his courage, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Sunday.
Khan spoke as the Pakistani foreign office confirmed that nine of its citizens had been killed in the mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city which claimed the lives of 50 people Friday, including many who had emigrated from around the world.
Video of the massacre shows one man gunned down as he approaches the shooter, while others flee.
The man is believed to be Naeem Rashid, although his face is blurred in the footage and he has yet to be formally identified.
“Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the White Supremacist terrorist & his courage will be recognized with a national award,” Khan tweeted on Sunday.
Pakistan has several awards to recognize civilian bravery, and Khan did not specify which one would be awarded to Rashid, whose son also died in the massacre.
Rashid’s elder brother Khurshid Alam, who spoke to AFP by telephone from the northwestern Pakistani city of Abbottabad on Saturday, said he was “proud” of his sibling.
“He could have saved his life but he preferred to save others. He was a brave guy,” Alam said, confirming that one of his two nephews, Talha Naeem, was also killed.
He said his brother would likely be buried in New Zealand, adding that the family are seeking visas to attend but that they were difficult to get quickly.
Officials in Pakistan’s picturesque northern areas also confirmed that the main suspect, 28-year-old white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, had visited the largely moderate region as a tourist in October of last year, staying for more than a week.
Syed Israr Hussain, owner of Osho Thang Hotel in Minapin Nagar, told AFP: “(Tarrant) ... stayed for two days before leaving for Khunjerab (Pass, on the border with China).
“He was a decent and quiet guy.”
He said he remembered Tarrant among the many tourists who visit the region “because he was so impressed by the area, and said he had heard so many negative things about Pakistan but he found it the opposite.”
Tarrant’s alleged involvement in the massacre left him “surprised and shocked,” he said.
Tarrant is also believed to have visited Gilgit and Skardu in the mountainous north.
“A total of 9 Pakistanis embraced shahadat (martyrdom) in New Zealand terror attack,” Mohammad Faisal, the foreign office spokesperson, tweeted Sunday. Khan said Pakistan will extend “all our support” to the families of the victims.


Catholic priest stabbed live on TV at Canada's biggest church

Updated 5 min 22 sec ago
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Catholic priest stabbed live on TV at Canada's biggest church

  • The priest was celebrating mass at Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory when a tall man approached and stabbed him
  • Security guards and other churchgoers quickly restrained the suspect and was arrested by police

MONTREAL: A Canadian Catholic priest was stabbed in front of dozens of stunned worshippers as he was celebrating mass Friday morning at Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory.
Montreal police said a 911 call was placed at around 8:40 a.m. local time. When officers arrived at the landmark church, a male suspect was already detained by security guards.
Philip Barrett, who was sitting near the front of the church, said he saw a tall man, who appeared to be a Caucasian in his 30s, rise from a pew and quickly walk to attack Rev. Claude Grou, the Oratory’s rector.
“He walked over behind the altar and he seemed to strike the priest’s body,” Barrett said. “I think the priest fell down at that time. I do remember the priest was moving away from the man but it happened so quickly there was almost no time to react.”
The service was live-streamed on a Catholic channel. Video shows a tall man in a dark jacket and white baseball cap rounding the altar and charging at Grou as he thrusts his right arm toward the priest. Grou runs backward a few steps before the assailant pushes him into a banner.
As screams are heard in the background, a group of people run forward, surrounding and blocking the suspect.

Barrett said people quickly restrained the suspect, who did not struggle. He said the suspect didn’t speak or call out during the attack.
There was no other information immediately available about why the priest may have been attacked.
Police spokeswoman Caroline Chevrefils says the victim suffered minor injuries to his upper body and was taken to the hospital.
The suspect was to be questioned by police Friday morning.
Barrett said Grou crumpled to the ground after the attack, but he appeared to be conscious and alert about 15 minutes later when paramedics wheeled him to an ambulance.
He said members of the congregation immediately began praying.
“We’re reassured, because when he left the oratory he was conscious and could talk, which we see as a good sign,” said Celine Barbeau, a spokeswoman for the church.
St. Joseph’s Oratory is among Canada’s largest churches, and pilgrims from all over the world are drawn to its domed roof and stunning architecture.
Barrett said that he, like the rest of the roughly 60 people present, was shocked that an attack would happen in a place he has come to see as a haven.
“I really find it’s a welcoming place,” he said. “I just hope that as a result of this, I mean, I can imagine they’re going to need more security, but I hope they can still keep that welcoming spirit.”