Worshippers have returned to the Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch for the first time since a mass shooting there in which dozens of people were killed.

With the crime scene investigation completed, the Al-Noor mosque, where the majority of the victims were killed, was handed back to the city’s Muslim community.

At around midday local time (23:00 GMT Friday), small groups of worshippers were allowed back onto the grounds, while armed police patrolled the site.

“We are allowing 15 people at a time, just to get some normality,” Saiyad Hassen, a volunteer at the mosque, told AFP news agency. He did not say when the mosque would fully reopen.

The mosque had been repaired, with bullet holes filled in and walls freshly painted – though the lack of rugs on the floor served as a reminder of what had happened.

Worshippers knelt to pray on a grey padded carpet underlay taped to the floor.

“It is the place where we pray, where we meet, we’ll be back,” Ashif Shaikh, who was in the mosque at the time of the shooting, told Reuters news agency.

Police said the nearby Linwood mosque, which was the second to be attacked, had also reopened.


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