WELLINGTON/SYDNEY - New Zealand police found a suspected bomb and ammunition Tuesday in a vacant lot in Christchurch, the scene of last month’s mosque shootings which killed 50 Muslim worshippers.
Police cordoned off streets late Tuesday afternoon in the Phillipstown area just outside the central business district and evacuated local houses.
Shortly after 6:00 p.m. they said a military bomb squad had rendered a suspicious package safe and a 33-year-old man had been arrested and was “assisting police with inquiries.”
“Police have located a package containing a suspected explosive device and ammunition at a vacant address on Newcastle Street in Christchurch,” superintendent John Price said in a statement.
“The NZDF EOD (NZ Defense Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team have rendered the package safe.”
Price did not provide any background about the man or his possible motivations.
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.
Just last week, the South Island city hosted a massive security operation as Britain’s Prince William visited survivors of the atrocity and praised the country’s response to the massacre.
While the cordons prompted by the latest scare had been lifted, Price urged residents to remain vigilant.
“Members of the community are asked to continue to report any concerning behavior or activity in their neighborhoods as we all work together to ensure the safety of our community,” he said.
The gunman allegedly behind the mosque shootings, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, is in a maximum-security prison in Auckland and has been ordered to undergo psychiatric tests.
In Australia, bomb experts there destroyed “explosive” materials found in a suburban Adelaide home Tuesday, following the arrest of a 43-year-old man.
South Australian police said the materials were found late Monday and the man appeared in court early Tuesday facing charges of possession of explosives.
“Investigations are continuing at the address,” the police said in a statement, adding that the Bomb Response Unit had been deployed. “There is no danger or threat to the public,” they said.
National broadcaster ABC said the man had come to the attention of the authorities earlier this year for anti-Muslim social media posts.
Local media reported the explosives were so-called Mother of Satan — a chemical explosive used by jihadi and other terror groups.
Aerial images from the scene showed explosives experts packing sandbags around an object ahead of the planned controlled detonation.