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Suspect in New Zealand terror attacks planned third shooting


The suspect in last Friday's deadly attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, was planning a third attack, police said Wednesday.

Fifty people were killed in a rampage at two mosques last Friday by a gunman who police say was likely headed to a third location when he was confronted and arrested by officers.

New Zealand's top police official, commissioner Mike Bush, told reporters that police "absolutely" believe that the gunman was stopped "on the way to a further attack," according to CNN.

Bush added that further details about the accused gunman's plans would not be released at this time so as not to "traumatize" his victims.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also spoke at a news conference in the city Wednesday, pledging to prevent extremist attitudes from finding an atmosphere to "flourish" in the country.

The alleged shooter, Brenton Tarrant, is accused of committing the attacks in response to Muslim immigration to the country. He reportedly posted a right-wing white supremacist manifesto on social media around the time of the shootings.

"There's a sense among New Zealanders that they wish to show to the Muslim community their support, their love," Ardern said, according to CNN.

"But the challenge for all of us going forward is that their safety is assured by making sure we never have an environment where violent extremist ideology can flourish. And that means addressing racism and extremism wherever it emerges."

Ardern also addressed criticism of a slow response from medical examiners who are working to identify the bodies found after the attack.

"I know the process has been incredibly difficult, frustratingly slow from the perspective of family members, but on the [other] side, I've seen those who are working on this process as well and I can also acknowledge that they are working incredibly hard too," Ardern reportedly said.

New Zealand police reported Tuesday night that some residents have turned in their guns following the shooting and amid Ardern's vows to strengthen the gun laws in the country.