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Emissaries from round world gathering in Christchurch for remembrance

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Emissaries from round world gathering in Christchurch for remembrance
FILE PHOTO: People visit a memorial site for victims of Friday's shooting, in front of the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva   -   Copyright  JORGE SILVA(Reuters)
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WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Representatives of governments from around the world are expected to attend a national remembrance service in New Zealand on Friday for the 50 victims of a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch.

“This is an event that affected New Zealand deeply. But it was our Muslim New Zealanders who were targeted. So rightly so, that would be reflected in the remembrance service,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will be represented at the service, but the full list of the attendees from 59 countries was withheld for security reasons, as the country has been on high alert since the March 15 attack.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the governor general Peter Cosgrove and opposition leader Bill Shorten will be among foreign leaders attending the service, Ardern said.

Heads of state from Pacific countries, including Fiji’s President Jioji Konkrote will also be in attendance, she added.

The service will be held in Christchurch in Hagley Park, where tens of thousands of New Zealanders have gathered since the attack to mourn the deaths. It will be televised live on state television networks.

Britain’s Prince William will visit New Zealand next month to honour the victims, his office said.

The massacre in New Zealand was carried out by a lone gunman at two mosques. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with one murder following the attack and is likely to face more charges when he is presented in court on April 5.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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