Survivors of Christchurch mosque attacks recount moments of terror

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Two survivors of the Christchurch terror attacks spoke about their close encounter with the terrorist who targeted two mosques on Friday morning, and their providential escape.

Al Arabiya spoke with the survivors of the attacks which killed at least 50 people and injured dozens others.

Anwar al-Saleh, a resident of Christchurch, said that he arrived at the mosque while the imam was delivering the Friday sermon but he had to go to the toilet to perform ‘wudu’ (ritual washing performed by Muslims before prayer) when he heard the gunshots. He first thought they were firecrackers.

“I then heard heavy gunfire and realized it was a terror attack. I tried calling the police but the lines were busy,” al-Saleh said, adding that he called the ambulance for help.

The ambulance department told him to remain calm and keep his cellular phone silent and not speak with anyone until the police arrives at the scene. The police arrived around 20 minutes later, said al-Saleh.

His wife had called him to check on him as he waited for the police. While policemen escorted him out of the toilet to take him to a secure place outside the mosque, he saw around six bodies on the floor.

Al-Saleh thanked God that he survived the attack and said what happened was tragic and shocking. He also thanked New Zealand authorities for all their help and support.

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Taj Mohammed, another survivor of the attack at Al-Noor Mosque, told that there were around 500 people inside the mosque when the attack happened.

Mohammed, from Afghanistan, said he saw the gunman enter from the mosque’s main door and open fire on everyone, adding that he saw people get shot so he tried to escape from another door but was shot in his leg.

Mohammed complained that the police and ambulances were late to arrive at the scene, adding that the assailant had enough time to drive and go to the other mosque.

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