12:00 AM, March 20, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, March 20, 2019


Kiwis give up guns 

New Zealanders have begun handing in weapons in response to government appeals following the Christchurch massacre. John Hart, a farmer in the North Island district of Masterton, decided to give his semi-automatic rifle to police after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday plans to tighten gun laws in light of the slaughter Friday of 50 Muslim worshippers. Hart said it was an easy decision for him to hand in his semi-automatic and tweeted that "on the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn't outweigh the risk of misuse. We don't need these in our country". Police said they did not have data available on the number of weapons handed in since Friday. Ardern has said that details of the government's proposed law changes on gun ownership will be announced by next week, but she indicated that gun buybacks and a ban on some semi-automatic rifles were under consideration.

European spies view ultra-right as growing threat

The ultra-right, which was responsible for large outbreaks of violence in the 1980s, is now firmly back on the radar screens for security services. European intelligence services have for years been increasing surveillance of ultra-right groups which are seen capable of carrying out attacks similar to those that left 50 dead at two mosques in New Zealand. Security services in France, Britain, Germany and Italy have repeatedly warned of the risks associated with growing tensions within Western societies over immigration and Islamist attacks. According to analysts at Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC), counter-terrorism operations linked to far-right extremism or hate crimes increased by 88 percent between 2016 and 2017. British Security Minister Ben Wallace told BBC radio on Monday that nearly 50 percent of people in a government-backed programme to fight radicalisation were involved in "far-right extremism." The government is now looking to increase the budget for the programme, known as Prevent, from its current level of 45 million pounds in response to the New Zealand attack, Wallace said. In Germany, intelligence agencies will devote 50 percent more staff in 2019 to fighting right-wing groups, domestic intelligence chief Thomas Haldenwang said last year.

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