Australian family of NZ mosques gunman devastated for victims

In this image made from a video, a woman and a man who Australia's Nine Network television says are a grandmother and an uncle of Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australian man accused of carrying out the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques, are interviewed in Grafton, New South Wales, Australia on March 17, 2019. (CHANNEL 9 via AP)
Updated 18 March 2019

Australian family of NZ mosques gunman devastated for victims

  • Tarrant’s grandmother said she was “gobsmacked” when she first saw the terror attack on television last Friday

MELBOURNE, Australia: A grandmother of the Australian man suspected of killing 50 people in two New Zealand mosques said she was “just devastated” for the dead and injured.
Speaking publicly for the first time in their home town of Grafton in the Australian state of New South Wales after the killings, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant’s grandmother Marie Fitzgerald expressed her sorrow, as did his uncle Terry Fitzgerald.
Tarrant, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday and is due back in court on April 5. Police said he was likely to face further charges.
“We’re so sorry for the families over there, for the dead and the injured. I can’t think nothing else,” his uncle said on Australia’s Channel Nine television late on Sunday.
Tarrant’s grandmother said she was “gobsmacked” when she first saw the news on television last Friday.
She said in high school, Tarrant had spent most of his time playing games on computers and learning the ins and outs of computers.
In a document published online, Tarrant said he received “little education during my schooling, barely achieving a passing grade,” skipping university to work and deal in cryptocurrency, which he said was profitable.
He then traveled extensively, including through Western Europe, Turkey and Bulgaria, between 2016 and 2018.
“It’s only since he traveled overseas I think that that boy has changed completely to the boy we knew,” she said.
He visited Grafton a year ago for his sister’s birthday celebration and was “his normal self,” she said, further adding “now everyone’s just devastated.”
Police on Monday said they had executed two search warrants in towns on the New South Wales mid-north coast related to the investigation into the mass shootings.

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.