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Christchurch mosque shooting survivors speak one year after the tragedy

The survivors of the Christchurch terror attack have opened up about the horrific mass shooting and revealed what life has been like one year on. 

On March 15, 2019, Brenton Tarrant stormed two mosques in Christchurch, on New Zealand’s south Island, killing 51 Muslim worshipers.

For those who miraculously survived the attack, which is the deadliest modern-day mass shooting the country has seen, the past 12 months have been a struggle. 

The traumatic event has turned Temel Atacocugu’s life completely upside down.

He has spent much of the past year in hospital after he was shot nine times.   

Temel Atacocugu (pictured) has spent much of the past year in hospital after he was shot nine times

Scars run along his arm after he was shot multiple times during the deadliest modern-day mass shooting the country has seen

Scars run along his arm after he was shot multiple times during the deadliest modern-day mass shooting the country has seen

The first bullet smashed into his teeth, four more went into both his legs. 

As he lay motionless on the ground he was hit four more time in his left arm and leg.

His physical recovery has been remarkable. While his scars still remain, he no longer needs a wheelchair or a cane to move.

It is his mental recovery which is taking longer. He is still haunted by the images. 

He has been on antidepressants for a year, he expects he will be on them for another 12 months.

‘Pretty much my whole life is upside down and changed,’ he said.

‘But spiritually, in a religious way, I’m much stronger than I used to be.’

Working at the kebab shop he co-owns has been a struggle since the attack, people often ask about his injuries, which makes Mr Atacocugu uncomfortable.

He now prefers working alone and is considering going back to work as a painter instead.    

When the gunman walked into the mosque, Mr Atacocugu was kneeling for Friday prayers. He looked up into the man's face

When the gunman walked into the mosque, Mr Atacocugu was kneeling for Friday prayers. He looked up into the man’s face

For Mustafa Boztas (pictured left), the attack has prompted changes in his career and how he wants to live his life

For Mustafa Boztas (pictured left), the attack has prompted changes in his career and how he wants to live his life

For Mustafa Boztas, the attack has prompted changes in his career and how he wants to live his life.

The 22-year-old was praying when the gunman stormed the Al Noor mosque and opened fire. 

He was part of a group that tried to break a window to escape but the gunman was too quick. 

‘Then we all got shot,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. 

Mr Boztas was shot in the leg. Injured and bloody, he lay motionless in a pile of bodies pretending to be dead. 

After a few minutes the room went quiet – the shooter left.

The former University of Canterbury engineering student managed to flee out of a smashed window. However, outside was no safer. Shots continued to ring out across the city. 

As he lay helpless in the street waiting for paramedics to arrive, a policeman came and offered help.

Sheikh Hasan Rubel, 35, (pictured) was shot twice in the pelvis and once in his leg

Sheikh Hasan Rubel, 35, (pictured) was shot twice in the pelvis and once in his leg

The harrowing moment has inspired him to change careers, he is now hoping to become a police officer himself. 

However, he was turned down by the New Zealand Police Force in November as he has endured significant trauma and deemed medically unfit.

He can reapply next year after a ‘comprehensive psychological assessment’.  

And while March 15 was a horrific day, Mr Boztas is refusing to let it destroy him.

‘Life is worth living, so I want to keep living my life. I don’t like to be sad; I don’t want to be depressed. I’m going to work towards my dreams and those dreams will become reality one day.’ 

Sheikh Hasan Rubel, 35, was shot twice in the pelvis and once in his leg.

The accountant now has to use a walking stick and still requires more surgery to his pelvis. 

And while his body has been damaged, Mr Rubel says his mind was hit the hardest. 

‘I still remember the feeling when I was getting shot by one after one bullet … at one point I was thinking that at any time I can get shot anywhere and I´ll be dead.’

For many of the victims, they have found strength in their religion.

New Zealanders will commemorate those who died on the anniversary of the mass killing on Sunday. 

Tarrant has pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism, murder and attempted murder, and his trial is scheduled to start in June. 

If found guilty, he faces life imprisonment. 

The horrific terror attack in Christchurch, which left 51 worshipers dead, has been described as New Zealand's darkest day

The horrific terror attack in Christchurch, which left 51 worshipers dead, has been described as New Zealand’s darkest day

TIMELINE OF TERROR: HOW THE CHRISTCHURCH MASSACRE THAT CLAIMED 50 LIVES UNFOLDED

A 28-year-old Australian man entered a mosque in central Christchurch on Friday afternoon and opened fire on people gathered inside the building – killing 51 people and leaving dozens more injured.

This is how the incident unfolded in local New Zealand Time on March 15.

1.40pm: First reports of a shooting at a mosque in central Christchurch. 

A man entered the mosque with an automatic weapon and opened fire on people inside. 

2.11pm: Police confirmed they were attending an ‘evolving situation’ in Christchruch.

Gunshots are heard in the area outside Masid Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue.

Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots, with one saying she attempted to give CPR to an injured person but they died.

2.17pm: Multiple schools went into lockdown in Christchurch. 

People who were in the mosque began to leave covered in blood and with gunshot wounds.

2.47pm: First reports of six people dead, three in a critical condition and three with serious injuries.

2.54pm:  Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the situation is ‘serious and evolving’ and told people to remain indoors and stay off the streets.

The Canterbury District Health Board activated its mass casualty plan.

3.12pm: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cancelled her afternoon arrangements.

3.21pm: Christchurch City Council locked down many of their central city buildings. 

3.33pm: First reports of a bomb in a beige Subaru that crashed on Strickland Street, three kilometres from the shootings.

3.40pm: Police confirmed there were multiple simultaneous attacks on mosques in Christchurch.

3.45pm: Reports of multiple shots fired at the shootings, which are ongoing.

3.59pm: 300 people were reported to be inside the moque.

4.00pm: One person is confirmed to be in custody but there are warnings there may be others out there.

Police commissioner Mike Bush urges Muslims across New Zealand to stay away from their local mosque.

4.10pm: Jacinda Ardern calls Friday ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’. 

5.27pm: First reports of a second shooting.

A witness said a Muslim local chased the shooters at the mosque in Linwood, firing in ‘self defence’. 

5.31pm: Four people are confirmed to be in custody. including one woman.

Multiple fatalities were reported.

7.07pm: It was confirmed an AR15 rifle was used in the attack.

7.20pm: Dunedin Street was cordoned off.

Reports the attackers planned to also target the Al Huda Mosque.

7.26pm: At least 40 people were confirmed dead, Jacinda Ardern confirmed.

7.34pm: Confirmed that 48 people were being treated in hospital. 

7.46pm: Britomart train station in central Auckland was evacuated after bags were found unattended.

The bags were deemed not suspicious. 

8.35pm: New Zealand’s Government confirmed this is the first time ever the terror level has been lifted from low to high.

9.03pm: Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirms that the death toll has risen to 49.

Brenton Tarrant was later charged with murder, and the death toll rose to 51.

 

 

  

 

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk