A probe is ongoing to establish Brenton Tarrant's movements in Turkey during his stay between March 17-20 and September 13 to October 25 in 2016, a senior Turkish official tells TRT World.

Brenton Tarrant, the terrorist behind the New Zealand mosque attack, is seen at a Turkish airport in this image accessed by TRT World.
Brenton Tarrant, the terrorist behind the New Zealand mosque attack, is seen at a Turkish airport in this image accessed by TRT World. (TRTWorld)

The perpetrator of a terrorist attack in New Zealand in which 50 people, mostly worshippers, were killed visited Turkey "twice", a senior Turkish official told TRT World on Friday. 

"Our initial assessment is that the perpetrator of today's heinous terror attack in Christchurch, travelled to Turkey multiple times and spent an extended period of time in the country," the official said. 

The worshippers were shot to death at two mosques during midday prayers on Friday — most if not all of them gunned down by an immigrant-hating white supremacist, identified as Brenton Tarrant, who apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter on Facebook. 

The main attacker was arrested and charged with murder, and two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand, a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns.

TRT World's Yusuf Erim has the latest.

Probe on his movement

The Turkish official said the attacker may have travelled to third countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

"We are currently investigating the terrorist's movements and contacts within the country," the official said.

Earlier on Friday, prosecutors in Bulgaria launched a probe into a recent visit to the country by the terrorist behind the attack.

He visited Bulgaria from November 9-15 last year claiming he wanted "to visit historical sites and study the history of the Balkan country," Bulgaria's public prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said, adding that the inquiry would establish if this was "correct or if he had other objectives."

Terror attacks in Turkey?

Turkish authorities believe the mosque attacker,  who also called for the assassination of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to Turkey "to carry out a terror attack and/ or an assassination."

Officials say Tarrant visited Turkey between March 17-20 in 2016, ahead of the July 15 defeated coup, and entered Turkey again on September 13, 2016. 

He left Turkey on October 25, 2016.

Turkish police are investigating what the terrorist was doing in the country during his 43-day stay.

Source: TRT World