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Father and son buried together in first funerals of Christchurch mosque massacre

Mirror logo Mirror 20/03/2019 Martin Fricker

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(Video by: Reuters)

The first burials of victims of the Christchurch mosque massacre have taken place.

Two caskets were carried into the Memorial Park cemetery in the South Island city at around midday.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funerals of Khaled Mustafa, 44, and his 14-year-old son Hamza.

a person posing for the camera: Khaled Mustafa was among 50 people killed in Christchurch © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Khaled Mustafa was among 50 people killed in Christchurch The teenager was on the phone to his mother when he was gunned down inside the Al Noor Mosque.

Khaled, who brought his family to New Zealand from war-torn Syria, was also shot dead during Friday prayers.

Relatives and volunteers carried the two caskets from a mortuary van into a marquee where prayers were held.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Mourners carry the first coffin of the Christchurch mosques massacre victim © AFP/Getty Images Mourners carry the first coffin of the Christchurch mosques massacre victim

They were then lifted through crowds of mourners before the bodies, which were wrapped in cloth, were placed in graves facing Mecca.

Each male mourner threw three handfuls of earth into the graves in keeping with Islamic tradition.

Among the mourners was Salwa Mustafa - the widow of Khaled and mother of Hamza.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Relatives and other people attend the burial ceremony © REUTERS Relatives and other people attend the burial ceremony Earlier this week she told how she listened to her teenage son dying after he was shot by gunman Brenton Tarrant.

Hamza rang her in a panic when the mass shooting began inside the Al Noor Mosque.

The teen was desperately trying to flee the gunman with his injured brother Zaid, 13, when he made the chilling call.

Gallery: NZ bikers perform Haka at memorial for shooting victims

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Salwa said: “He said, ‘Mum, there’s someone come into the mosque and he’s shooting us’.

“He was running with his brother who had been shot in his leg.

“After that I heard shooting and he screamed and after that I didn't hear him.

a man standing next to a body of water: Hamza Mustafa, 14, rang his mum Salwa in a panic when the mass shooting began inside the Al Noor Mosque © Supplied Hamza Mustafa, 14, rang his mum Salwa in a panic when the mass shooting began inside the Al Noor Mosque “I called Hamza, Hamza, and I can hear his little voice and after that it was quiet.”

Salwa tried for 20 minutes to speak with her son but could only listen as his life slowly slipped away.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Relatives arrive to attend the burial ceremony © REUTERS Relatives arrive to attend the burial ceremony “His phone was on, but I couldn't talk to him,” she added. “Then someone picked up the phone and told me, ‘Your son can't breathe, I think he's dead’.”

Zaid suffered two gunshot wounds in the attack but survived.

The family had only arrived in New Zealand last July after fleeing the horrors of Syria for a new start.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Mourners carry the coffin of the Christchurch mosques massacre victims © AFP/Getty Images Mourners carry the coffin of the Christchurch mosques massacre victims Friend Ali Akil said “They survived atrocities and arrived here in a safe haven, only to be killed in the most atrocious way.

“They were just looking for a safe place. Unfortunately we can't claim that New Zealand is a safe place any more.”

a group of people standing next to a building: Mourners attend the funeral in Christchurch © REUTERS Mourners attend the funeral in Christchurch

A mass burial for dozens of victims of the mosque attacks is expected to take place tomorrow.

The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The youngest was a boy of three, born in New Zealand to Somali refugee parents. Six Pakistanis, five Indians and five Bangladeshis were killed, officials said.

Frustration was building among the families of victims as under Islam it is custom to conduct burials within 24 hours, but bodies will not be released until post mortems are carried out.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Students and members of the public attend a service at the Al-Madinah School in Mangere © Getty Images Students and members of the public attend a service at the Al-Madinah School in Mangere

About 60 volunteers, some who have flown in from Australia, have gathered to help with the ritual cleansing of the victims before burial.

"It is a spiritual process, preparing the body to go into the next life," said Taufan Mawardi, one the volunteers.

The two mosques involved in the shootings have been closed since the massacre, but are expected to reopen by Friday prayers after cleansing blessings were carried out.

Gallery: In photos: New Zealand terrorist attack (Photo Services)


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