New Zealand attack: How 2nd most peaceful country went from 35 murders in a year to 49 killed in a day

New Zealand, which saw one of the darkest days in the country’s history on Friday, was ranked the second most peaceful country in the world.

Iceland had topped the 2018 Global Peace Index, followed by New Zealand, in the list released by an Australian think tank.

On Friday, 49 people were killed and 20 injured in mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

Murders are rare in New Zealand. As per The New York Times, 35 murders were reported in New Zealand in 2017. The report adds that gun homicides are even rarer. Since 2007, gun homicides have been in the single digits each year except 2009, when there were 11.

The deadly mass shooting at the two mosques in New Zealand during Friday prayers has shocked the nation known for tolerance and safety.

“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Many of those who would have been affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand. They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home and it is their home,” she said.

Muslims account for just over 1 per cent of New Zealand’s population, a 2013 census had showed, with more than three-quarters born overseas, Reuters said.

While murders are rare in New Zealand, the case is not same when it comes to guns. According to gun control advocacy group, hosted by the University of Sydney, New Zealand’s population of almost 5 million has around 1.2 million guns in private hands.

The gun licensing laws were strengthened after a gunman killed 13 people in 1990 following a dispute with neighbours. The gunman was shot and killed by police.

Gun laws were then tightened and these restrictions included including restrictions on “military style semiautomatic weapons”.

On Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern reiterated that New Zealand was a not a target because it was a safe harbour for those who hate, condoned racism, or because it was an enclave for extremism.

“We were chosen for the very fact we are none of these things, because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it,” Ardern said.

“And those values, I assure, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.”

(with inputs from agencies)

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