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New Zealand mosque attack death toll rises to 50

Authorities in New Zealand announced that the death toll from the mass shooting at two mosques there this week has risen to 50.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced the figure during a news conference early Sunday morning local time, according to The Associated Press.

Police had previously said that 49 people had dead in the attack Friday. Another 36 people remain hospitalized Saturday, with two in critical condition, Bush said.

The 28-year-old Australian man charged in connection with the shooting was in court earlier Saturday, where he appeared to flash a "white power" sign.

Police say that he killed 41 people at one mosque and seven at another, according to the AP. Two others died after being hospitalized.

The attack has raised fears among Muslims in the U.S. and around the world, with law enforcement officials in various major cities bolstering security at mosques and other Islamic centers. 

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardem called the shootings an act of right-wing terrorism and vowed to changed to the country's gun laws.

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," Ardern said Friday.

"While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now: Our gun laws will change," she added at a news conference later in the day.

The shootings represent the deadliest attacks in the country's history. A previous mass shooting in 1990 killed 13 people.

Experts have noted a lack of requirements for registration of many types of guns, compared to neighboring Australia, though all gun owners must apply for licenses.

-John Bowden contributed reporting

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