Latter-day Saint leaders respond with grief, prayers for Muslims after New Zealand shooting

Joining world leaders from Pakistan and New Zealand who condemned the attacks that occurred at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, the Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today issued the following statement of love and support:

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of so many lives as a result of yesterday's senseless attacks in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand," the statement said. "Our prayers are with the families of the deceased, the injured and all others impacted by this tragedy. We also pray for all New Zealanders and our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world."

The statement was attributed to the Pacific Area presidency — Elder O. Vincent Haleck and his counselors, Elder Ian S. Ardern and Elder K. Brett Nattress.

The attacks occurred during midday prayers on Friday, March 15. A gunman, armed with at least two assault rifles and a shotgun, entered into Al Noor Mosque and opened fire. The second attack occurred at the Linwood Mosque about three miles away. One man, Brenton Tarrant, has been arrested and charged for the attacks while two other suspects have also been taken into custody.

According to an AP story that appeared on the Deseret News, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted about the attacks as evidence of a rise in Islamophobia and continued hostility toward Muslims following any acts of terror around the world.

The same article quoted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as saying that many of those killed or injured in the attacks could be migrants or refugees who "have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us." Ardern continued to say that terrorist acts and extremist views have no place in New Zealand.

At least 49 people are reported to have been killed in the two attacks with several more injured or in critical condition.