Man charged after bomb and detonator cord found in Christchurch

Police officers and vehicles are seen behind police cordon, in Christchurch, New Zealand, on April 30, 2019.
Police officers and vehicles are seen behind police cordon, in Christchurch, New Zealand, on April 30, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (DPA, AFP) - Police in Christchurch on Wednesday (May 1) charged a 33-year-old man with a series of weapons offences, less than two months after the New Zealand city was shaken by a terrorist attack on two mosques that left 50 people dead.

The charges came after an explosive device and detonator cord were found at an empty section of the South Island's biggest city on Tuesday.

Local media named the man as Jay Michael Harding-Reriti and said the charges included possession of a handheld improvised explosive device, powergel explosives and detonator cord.

They said he was remanded in custody until May 6 and further details of the case were suppressed at the request of police.

New Zealand police on Wednesday however, ruled out any link between the bomb found and the mosque shootings in March.

“We are not seeking anyone else in relation to the incident,” detective inspector Corrie Parnell said in a statement.

“There are no known links between the 33-year-old man and the Christchurch attacks on March 15.” 

On Tuesday, cordons were put in place in the inner suburb of Phillipstown where the bomb was found and houses in the neighbouring streets were evacuated as a precaution.

The bomb disposal unit rendered the package safe and the man was taken in custody. The accused did not seek bail and was remanded in custody till Monday. So far nothing is known about his background or whether he was planning to use the bomb.

Christchurch remains on alert after the March attacks in which a self-styled white supremacist shot dead 50 people and injured another 39 in attacks on two mosques.

The gunman allegedly behind the mosque shootings, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, is in a maximum-security prison in Auckland has been ordered to undergo psychiatric tests.