AP NEWS

UN leader visits New Zealand mosques where 51 were killed

May 14, 2019
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, second from right, delivers a statement as he stands with Al Noor mosque Imam Gamal Fouda, right, during a visit to the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Guterres is on the final day of his three-day visit to New Zealand as part of a trip to the South Pacific to highlight the problems of climate change. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday visited the two New Zealand mosques where 51 worshippers were killed by a gunman in March.

Guterres spent about 30 minutes inside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch talking to Muslim leaders and survivors of the attacks.

Outside the mosque, he told reporters that like many people around the world, he had been moved by the poignant stories of compassion and grace.

“I know there are no words to relieve the hurt and sorrow and pain,” Guterres said. “But I wanted to come here personally to transmit love, support, and total and complete admiration.”

Guterres then traveled to the Linwood mosque where he laid a wreath and met with survivors including Abdul Aziz, who is considered a hero for chasing the gunman and throwing a credit card machine and a discarded gun at him.

Aziz said he was honored to meet the U.N. leader.

“To come here and share the pain with us, it means a lot,” Aziz said.

Guterres also attended a climate alliance event while on his visit to several South Pacific countries primarily to highlight the problems of climate change. His trip comes ahead of the Climate Action Summit that he plans to convene in September in New York.