Australian police risked a potential blue-on-blue incident during the Christchurch mosque shootings as visiting officers rushed to the scene without ID.
Australian police risked a potential blue-on-blue incident during the Christchurch mosque shootings as visiting officers rushed to the scene without ID.

NZ massacre: Chaos as Aussie snipers opened fire

Australian police risked a potential blue-on-blue incident at the height of the mosque massacre in New Zealand as visiting officers rushed to the scene with their weapons to give aid but carried no clear overt identification.

A detailed review of the New Zealand Police response to the March 15, 2019 mosque attacks in Christchurch, in which lone right-wing Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant killed 51 people and injured 40 others, found the response by first responders was exemplary.

The report reveals Australian police who happened to be in the city for a sniper training course, "deployed themselves to the incident" and provided a high level of emergency first aid that led directly to the saving of lives.

It is understood the already "highly trained" police officers were from NSW, Victoria and Queensland and Hong Kong administered "tremendously impactful" care to victims as backup to overstretched local resources.

An injured person is loaded in an ambulance following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. Picture: AAP
An injured person is loaded in an ambulance following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. Picture: AAP

The report noted some of these non-NZ Police staff carried weapons "for their own protection" but their primary activities were as first aid responders.

However the laws allowing their action, despite it being a "heated operational environment" would need clear standard operating procedures in future given the potential for things to go wrong.

"Hospital staff acknowledged that visiting national and overseas police officers and Defence persons attending training during this time saved lives with their advanced first aid skills," the independent review report titled "Operation Deans - the first 48 hours" found.

"However identification of those persons was initially problematic. There needs to be consideration of issues affecting visiting police and Defence staff and how they may be deployed. These issues should cover any legislative or legal considerations as well as standard operating procedures."

It added: "Because these staff did not have NZP uniform their identification was a matter of confusion particularly for the public. Police agree that in future operations clear NZP identification for all deployed staff is essential or buddying with NZP-identified staff."

The report describes the initial confusion across the city amid fears there were "multiple shooters" and claims from the killer, NSW man Brenton Tarrant, that there were others and IEDs about the place. It noted his claims mirrored the actions of gunman Man Monis during the Sydney Lindt cafe siege.

At least three Christchurch locals in the panic also went out in public with firearms and there were several reports of shots fired at a hospital, adding to the confused scene local police had to confront.

The report concluded in future operating procedures would be created around what visiting police or defence personnel deploying to public aid carry as equipment, clothing/markings and a communication plan around informing other responding units.

The NZ Police massacre response was the largest ever undertaken; Tarrant was in August jailed for life without parole.

Originally published as NZ massacre: Chaos as Aussie snipers opened fire



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