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Christchurch shootings: UK mosque security under review

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Senior counter-terrorism experts and the security services are meeting the home secretary later to discuss how UK mosques can best be protected.

It comes after the shootings at two Christchurch mosques that killed 49.

Police patrols around UK mosques are being increased to provide reassurance during Friday prayers.

The British government has sent condolences to the people of New Zealand, with Theresa May calling it a “sickening act of violence”.

The attacks in Christchurch on Friday, the deadliest in New Zealand’s history, happened at around the time people were attending the mosques for prayers.

At least 20 people have also been wounded in what the country’s prime minister Jacinda Arden described as terrorism, saying it was one of the nation’s “darkest days”.

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Armed police patrol following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch

British security minister Ben Wallace, speaking in the House of Commons on Friday, called the attack “repugnant” and said the UK “stands shoulder to shoulder with New Zealand against terrorism”.

He said he and home secretary Sajid Javid would meet police counter-terrorism chiefs and the security services later on Friday, “to discuss what further measures we can take to protect our mosques and our communities from any threats here in the United Kingdom”.

Mr Wallace added: “Our police and security services treat all threats the same and all terrorists the same no matter what communities, religion or background they come from. A terrorist is a terrorist and we shall deal with them exactly the same.”

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Finsbury Park Mosque – which was the site of an attack in 2017 – said it received messages of support after the New Zealand attack

More police at mosques

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said it was “heartbreaking news”, adding that Scotland Yard was “stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques”.

“I have been in touch with the Met Police. There will be highly visible policing around mosques today, as well as armed response officers, as Londoners go to pray.”

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mr Basu, the national policing lead for counter-terrorism, said: “Today we will be stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques and increasing engagement with communities of all faiths, giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves.”

Sir Mark Rowley, the former head of counter terrorism at the Met Police, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that although “Western societies have always had racist thugs” who commit crimes, in recent years they have become more organised and with ambitions to carry out terror attacks.

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