March 15, 2019 / 9:30 AM / 5 days ago

France steps up security near religious sites after New Zealand attacks

AOS (Armed Offenders Squad) push back members of the public following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. REUTERS/SNPA/Martin Hunter

PARIS (Reuters) - French authorities have stepped up security measures near religious sites after deadly attacks against two mosques in New Zealand left 49 people dead, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Friday.

“Patrols will be held around religious sites,” Castaner said on his official Twitter account.

At least one gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 20 during the Friday prayer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in an act that was qualified as terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

A gunman broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a “manifesto” in which he denounced immigrants.

France is home to the largest Muslim minority population in Western Europe and suffered deadly Islamist militant attacks in 2015 and 2016.

Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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