A woman looks at the floral tribute near the Linwood mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, March 21, 2019. Police officials in New Zealand say the man responsible for killing 50 people at two mosques was on his way to a third attack when police arrested him. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

The Latest: NZ imam preparing for emotional Friday prayer

March 20, 2019 - 8:28 pm

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The Latest on the mosque attacks in New Zealand (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

An imam says he's expecting thousands of people at an emotional Friday prayer in Christchurch, New Zealand, a week after a gunman killed 42 people at his mosque and 50 people in all.

Gamal Fouda says he's been discussing plans for the prayer with city officials and lawmakers and expects it will take place in a large park across from Al Noor mosque.

Fouda says he's expecting 3,000 to 4,000 people, including many coming from abroad. He said members of the Linwood mosque, where the gunman killed seven people, also would attend the joint prayer.

He says mosque workers have been feverishly working to repair the destruction from the March 15 attack. They will bury the blood-soaked carpet.

Meanwhile, at least two more funerals were taking place Thursday at a Muslim cemetery in Christchurch.

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11:30 p.m.

A resident of the United Arab Emirates who worked for a security firm was detained and deported after making comments on Facebook celebrating the New Zealand mosque attacks that killed 50 people.

Transguard Group says its employee, who was not identified, made the comments on his personal Facebook page under an assumed name. Transguard says the employee was stripped of his security credentials, fired and handed over to authorities.

It says the UAE, where the official religion is Islam, deported him. Transguard, which is part of the Emirates aviation group in Dubai, did not elaborate.

The UAE's National newspaper said Wednesday the employee was believed to be a security officer whose Facebook post celebrating Friday's shooting included reference to a deadly attack on Indian soldiers in Kashmir last month.

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7:45 p.m.

New Zealand's deputy prime minister has expressed condolences for Indonesian victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Winston Peters spoke Wednesday while in Jakarta for a meeting with other leaders on Indo-Pacific cooperation.

Lilik Abdul Hamid, an aircraft maintenance engineer at Air New Zealand, was killed in the Al Noor mosque. Two other Indonesians, a father and son, were seriously wounded.

Peters also expressed his appreciation of Indonesia's support during a difficult time for New Zealand. Earlier Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla expressed his gratitude that the suspect in the killings of 50 worshippers at the two mosques last Friday was arrested quickly.

Saying "our country changed forever," Peters vowed the government would not detour from the sight of the victims and that questions about gun reforms would be answered quickly.

He said, "This time next week you will see the principles behind what we have said developing into a new law to go to the Parliament."

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7:30 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the gunman who killed 50 people at two New Zealand mosques is no different from the militants of the Islamic State group.

In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Erdogan also called on Western leaders to learn from "the courage, leadership and sincerity" of New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and "embrace Muslims living in their respective countries."

The opinion piece's headline read: "The New Zealand killer and the Islamic State are cut from the same cloth."

Erdogan said the West "must reject the normalization of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia."

Separately, the Turkish president has been criticized for showing excerpts from video of the mosque attacks and for comments about the Gallipoli campaign in World War I.

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