Hero ex-refugee chases gunman away from Christchurch mosque

PHOTO: AFP

CHRISTCHURCH - When Afghan refugee Abdul Aziz saw a man brandishing a gun outside his mosque in Christchurch, he ran towards the attacker armed with the only weapon he could find - a hand-held credit card machine.

Seven people were killed when a white supremacist stormed Linwood Masjid - the second mosque he attacked on Friday - as worshippers prayed.

But the death toll could have been much higher if not for the heroic actions of Mr Aziz, an Australian citizen, whose efforts to distract and chase the gunman away have attracted widespread praise.

"You don't have much time to think, whatever you think of, you just do it, you know," Mr Aziz told AFP, brushing off the "hero" tag as local Muslims gathered to thank him for saving relatives and friends. "I just wanted to save as much lives as I could, even if I lose my life."

Mr Aziz and his four sons were worshipping at the mosque when they heard gunfire outside the building.

He became suspicious and ran out of the mosque, grabbing a credit card processing device. Outside, he found an armed man in military-style fatigues.

"At first, I didn't know if he was the good guy or the bad guy. But when he started swearing, I knew he was not the good guy," he said.

Mr Aziz,48, hurled the machine at the gunman, then ducked between cars as the attacker sprayed shots at him.

Abdul Aziz speaks with a man who came to thank him for his bravery.Photo: AFP

Unhurt, he picked up an empty shotgun the gunman had discarded and shouted "come on here" repeatedly in an effort to draw him away from his sons and the other worshippers.

"When he see the gun in my hands, I don't know what happened, he dropped the gun and I chased him with my own gun... I managed to throw the gun on his car and smash the car window, and I could see he was a bit frightened."

The gunman was apprehended by two armed police officers soon afterwards.

Aziz arrived in Australia as a child refugee. He lived in Sydney for almost three decades before moving to Christchurch two-and-a-half years ago.

Mr Aziz says he has nothing but contempt for the attacker.

"... a man never hurts anybody. He is not a man - he is a coward," he said.

ALSO READ: 'I'll walk with you': Christchurch mosque shootings prompts flood of support