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Pakistan salutes hero of New Zealand mosque shooting

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan bestowed a national award on one of the victims of last week’s mosque attack in New Zealand who died along with his son while trying to confront the suspected white supremacist accused of the country’s worst peacetime mass shooting.

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Mian Naeem Rashid and his son Talha were among nine Pakistanis killed when a gunman attacked two mosques in the new Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, the foreign ministry confirmed on Sunday.

Fifty people from countries including Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt and Jordan were killed in the attack. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, was charged with murder on Saturday.

“Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the white supremacist terrorist and his courage will be recognized with a national award,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The BBC reported that footage filmed by the gunman himself showed Rashid confronting him outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch before he was killed along with his son.

The Pakistan government pledged support for families of all the Pakistani victims and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced a national day of mourning with flags flown at half mast on Monday.

“The whole nation mourns this shock,” he told reporters in Islamabad.

For Pakistan, which has suffered thousands of deaths from extremist violence over the years while facing accusations of allowing militant Islamist groups to operate from its soil, the attack showed that terrorism was a universal phenomenon.

“The mindless killing spree carried out by the terrorists oncce again proved that terrorism knows no religion or boundaries,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“This affirms Pakistan’s narrative that terrorism is an international phenomenon, having no religion and should not be associated with any religion.”

Relatives of Rashid mourned his death in the northern city of Abbottabad on Sunday and Safi Rizwan, a nephew, said his uncle had left a message for everyone.

“If you see something happening that is not good for other humans, or if that is hurting other people, you give your everything to save them, even it means giving your life.”

Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Ros Russell