A Nation in Agony as Muslims Slain at Prayer: Balance of Power

(Bloomberg) --

The picturesque coastal city of Christchurch on New Zealand’s southern island was devastated in 2011 by a deadly earthquake. Now, tragedy has struck in another form.

The worst mass shooting in the country in more than 75 years saw 49 people killed after gunmen opened fire at two mosques during Friday prayers, in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as a well-planned terrorist attack. Four people, including one Australian, have been detained, with one charged with murder.

In a nation where gun violence is relatively rare, and which has largely welcomed outsiders, the assault may raise questions about access to weapons.

Live-streamed by an alleged perpetrator (some media outlets also broadcast parts of the footage), it will open a fresh debate about the actions of social-media platforms. One of those arrested had posted a lengthy, rambling manifesto online spouting extremist ideology.

“We should not be perpetuating, sharing, giving any oxygen to this act of violence,” Ardern said. “We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism — we were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things.”

A Nation in Agony as Muslims Slain at Prayer: Balance of Power

Global Headlines

Kim cools | Kim Jong Un will soon decide whether to halt nuclear talks and end his pause on weapons tests, a top North Korean diplomat told foreign reporters, in the latest fallout from last month's failed summit with Donald Trump. Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed the “gangster-like” demands of U.S. officials such as Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, but stopped short of criticizing the president.

Veto showdown | The Senate voted to block Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to pay for his Mexico border wall, setting up his first veto and highlighting a growing willingness by Republicans to split with their president. He's also seeing Senate Republican challenges over foreign policy decisions, including a resolution to withdraw support for the Saudi Arabia-led conflict in Yemen.

Buying time | After a torrid week, Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal is still alive — just. She won Parliament's support to seek a delay to the U.K.'s exit from the European Union, which gives her a short window to persuade doubters in her own party to back her plan or risk a lengthy postponement. May is expected to bring her proposal — already voted down twice — back to Parliament next week.

  • Click here for a look at the 310 miles that are the biggest obstacle to a Brexit deal

Ciao China | With President Xi Jinping due in Rome next week, Italy's populist government is rushing to firm up accords from banking and energy to soccer clubs — although Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini is urging caution in the name of national security. Business players are lining up for agreements in parallel with a memorandum of understanding that will give Rome a role in the massive Belt and Road Initiative.

Libya threat | International backers of Libya’s most powerful warlord, Khalifa Haftar, are increasingly nervous that he's preparing an assault on the capital, Tripoli. As Samer Khalil Al-Atrush reports, a military showdown could rattle global oil markets and sow further chaos in a divided country already struggling to defeat Islamic State and stem the flow of migrants toward Europe.

What to Watch

  • Brazil’s energy minister said there are plans to sign an accord with Trump during President Jair Bolsonaro’s first trip to the White House next week. It could pave the way for U.S. companies to explore the Latin American country for uranium.
  • Israeli aircraft bombed sites in Gaza and Palestinian militants fired rockets at southern Israel today after an attack on the Tel Aviv area escalated tensions before Israel’s April 9 election.

And finally... Shinzo Abe is already expected to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. Could his name live on through an entire generation? A character from Abe's name — 安, or “peace” — is a contender to describe the new era when Emperor Akihito’s son, Naruhito, ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1.

A Nation in Agony as Muslims Slain at Prayer: Balance of Power

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