New Zealand attack mosque reopens early as worshippers gather to pay respects

23 March 2019, 11:45 | Updated: 23 March 2019, 12:33

The mosque where dozens of worshippers were killed in a terror attack has opened its doors earlier than planned after crowds gathered outside.

Hundreds of people stopped at the al Noor mosque in Christchurch to lay flowers or pray after police removed a cordon.

Shagat Khan, the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, said they had not planned to open so soon but when they saw the crowds gathering they decided to allow people to enter in managed groups "so the mosque will be alive again".

He added: "Those who lost their families are of course quite emotional.

"And those who were present here during the incident, of course the memories come back. The flashbacks."

Abdullahi Ibrahim Diriye, the uncle of the youngest victim of the shooting, three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim, visited the mosque with the boy's father.

"Always he was a happy boy, and he liked every person he met, not only Muslims," he said.

Inside there were few signs of the carnage from eight days earlier.

Crews had replaced windows that worshippers smashed in a desperate attempt to escape the attack during Friday prayers. Bullet holes were plastered over and painted.

A total of 50 people were killed at two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March in the nation's worst terrorist attack.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on 5 April.