Pakistan to award 'courage' of citizen killed in Christchurch

Islamabad (AFP) –


A Pakistani victim of the Christchurch attack who apparently tried to tackle the gunman before being shot dead will be awarded posthumously in his home country for his courage, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Sunday.

Khan spoke as the Pakistani foreign office confirmed that nine of its citizens had been killed in the mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city which claimed the lives of 50 people Friday, including many who had emigrated from around the world.

Video of the massacre shows one man gunned down as he approaches the shooter, while others flee.

The man is believed to be Naeem Rashid, although his face is blurred in the footage and he has yet to be formally identified.

"Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the White Supremacist terrorist & his courage will be recognised with a national award," Khan tweeted on Sunday.

Pakistan has several awards to recognise civilian bravery, and Khan did not specify which one would be awarded to Rashid, whose son also died in the massacre.

Rashid's elder brother Khurshid Alam, who spoke to AFP by telephone from the northwestern Pakistani city of Abbottabad on Saturday, said he was "proud" of his sibling.

"He could have saved his life but he preferred to save others. He was a brave guy," Alam said, confirming that one of his two nephews, Talha Naeem, was also killed.

He said his brother would likely be buried in New Zealand, adding that the family are seeking visas to attend but that they were difficult to get quickly.

Officials in Pakistan's picturesque northern areas also confirmed that the main suspect, 28-year-old white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, had visited the largely moderate region as a tourist in October of last year, staying for more than a week.

Syed Israr Hussain, owner of Osho Thang Hotel in Minapin Nagar, told AFP: "(Tarrant) ... stayed for two days before leaving for Khunjerab (Pass, on the border with China).

"He was a decent and quiet guy."

He said he remembered Tarrant among the many tourists who visit the region "because he was so impressed by the area, and said he had heard so many negative things about Pakistan but he found it the opposite".

Tarrant's alleged involvement in the massacre left him "surprised and shocked", he said.

Tarrant is also believed to have visited Gilgit and Skardu in the mountainous north.

"A total of 9 Pakistanis embraced shahadat (martyrdom) in New Zealand terror attack," Mohammad Faisal, the foreign office spokesperson, tweeted Sunday. Khan said Pakistan will extend "all our support" to the families of the victims.