Turkish man dies, upping toll from Christchurch attack to 51

May 02, 2019 - 3:01 pm

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The death toll from the Christchurch mosque attacks has risen to 51 after a Turkish man who had been hospitalized since a gunman opened fire on worshippers seven weeks ago died overnight, authorities in New Zealand and Turkey confirmed.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday the sad news would be felt across both countries.

"This man has been in intensive care since the attack," Ardern said in a statement. "We have all been hoping for the best, however he has now succumbed to the injuries sustained in the shooting at the Al Noor mosque."

Relations between Turkey and New Zealand have been strained since the March 15 attack after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed clips of a livestream video taken by the gunman at election campaigns to denounce hatred against Islam.

New Zealand authorities have banned the video, and anybody caught sharing it in New Zealand can face up to 14 years in prison.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters traveled to Turkey a week after the attacks to try to smooth relations. He spoke at an emergency session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's executive committee called by Turkey to combat prejudice against Muslims in the wake of the attacks.

On Thursday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter: "Unfortunately, we have lost our citizen Zekeriya Tuyan who was seriously wounded in the treacherous terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand."

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the father of two was wounded in the back and the leg and died after undergoing surgery. New Zealand police said Tuyan was 46. He was one of three Turkish citizens wounded in the attack.

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder in the attacks, although those charges could be amended to reflect the increased death toll. He is next due in court on June 14.

Ardern said Tuyan was only the second victim to die while in the hospital, after one other victim was unable to be resuscitated on arrival at Christchurch Hospital on the day of the attacks. She said that of the other 49 men, women and children who were shot and wounded in the attacks, nine remained hospitalized and all of them were in a stable condition.