New Zealand shooting suspect Brenton Tarrant appears in Christchurch court

PHOTO: Reuters

CHRISTCHURCH - Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant appeared in court on Saturday (March 16) charged with murder, after a terror attack on two Christchurch mosques that left 49 dead.

Wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, the Australia-born former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist sat impassively as the judge read the charge against him.

He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance scheduled for April 5.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday that victims of the attack were from across the Muslim world, underscoring the global impact of the attack.

She said her government was working with consular officials from countries including "Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia," to deal with the aftermath of the attack that killed 49 people.

Dozens more were wounded when Tarrant opened fire on worshippers in two mosques.

A video live-streamed by him on Facebook showed him rapidly firing what appeared to be hundreds of bullets at his defenseless victims using various weapons.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier confirmed that one of the four people taken into custody is Australian.

"I can confirm that the individual who was taken into custody I have been advised is an Australian-born citizen," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

"We grieve, we are shocked, we are appalled, we are outraged, and we stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist."

Mr Morrison said he has been in contact with Ms Ardern, and that Australian agencies are working with New Zealand authorities.

New Zealand has raised its security threat level to the highest. Armed police were deployed at several locations in all cities, unusual in a country where levels of gun violence are low.