New Zealand PM confirms intel agency inquiry after mosque attacks

Police collect evidence at the Al Noor mosque on March 19, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand, where worshippers were gunned down four days ago. (AFP / William West)
Updated 19 March 2019
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New Zealand PM confirms intel agency inquiry after mosque attacks

  • The inquiry would look at the intelligence service, communications security bureau, as well as police, customs and immigration agencies
  • Heads of these agencies welcomed the inquiry to identify loopholes

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed there will be an inquiry into the country's intelligence agencies in the wake of Friday's mosque shootings in Christchurch.
 
Ardern said the inquiry would investigate if the agencies “could or should have known” about the alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant, or his activities prior to the attacks.
 
She said the inquiry would look at the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS), Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), as well as police, customs and immigration agencies. 
 
The inquiry would also consider if the agencies were in a position to prevent the attack and whether there were issues around information sharing between agencies. 
 
Ardern said no decisions had been made about who would lead the inquiry. The terms of reference were now being finalized. 
 
Police welcomed the government's inquiry.
 
"It is important we learn any lessons we can from this tragedy," New Zealand's Police Commissioner Mike Bush said. 
 
SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge also welcomed the inquiry.
 
"We embrace the opportunity to learn from this terrible experience," she said in a statement.
 
There were "important questions that need answers", Kitteridge said.
 
GCSB Director-General Andrew Hampton said the inquiry was important.
 
"It is of the utmost importance that the public are assured that GCSB acted lawfully and appropriately," he said.
 
Both intelligence agencies confirmed they had no prior intelligence on the accused gunman, Brenton Tarrant, before he allegedly gunned down 50 people at two Christchurch mosques on Friday. 


Philippines’ Duterte in war of words over Canada garbage row

Updated 54 min 15 sec ago
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Philippines’ Duterte in war of words over Canada garbage row

  • The Philippines has urged Canada to take back scores of garbage containers shipped to the country in 2013 and 2014, alleging they contain toxic waste
  • Ottawa has said it had no authority to compel a private shipper to return the shipment to Canada

PORAC, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday demanded Canada take back tons of trash it had illegally shipped to Manila or risk “war,” in the latest incident to strain bilateral ties.
The Philippines has urged Canada to take back scores of garbage containers shipped to the country in 2013 and 2014, alleging they contain toxic waste.
But Ottawa has said it had no authority to compel a private shipper to return the shipment to Canada.
Speaking to officials during a visit north of Manila, an area ravaged by an earthquake on Monday, Duterte said he did not care if his stance on the issue turned the two countries into enemies.
“I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out, or I will set sail for Canada and dump their garbage back there,” he said.
“Let’s fight Canada. I will declare war against them,” added the president, who frequently uses coarse language and hyperbole in public speeches about opponents.
The garbage is among several festering issues that have soured ties between the two governments.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been among the most vocal critics of the domestic drug war waged by Duterte, who was elected in 2016.
Philippine police say they have killed nearly 5,000 alleged drug users and pushers who fought against arrest in the crackdown, while rights groups say the true toll is at least triple that and may amount to crimes against humanity.
Last year Duterte angrily canceled the Philippine military’s $235 million contract to buy 16 military helicopters from a Canada-based manufacturer after the Trudeau government put the deal under review because of the president’s human rights record.