LEADERS in Bolton have paid tribute to the 49 people killed in terrorist shootings in New Zealand as calls are made for the Government to redouble efforts to ensure mosques are protected in the wake of the atrocity.

Forty nine people have been killed and more than 20 others have been seriously injured at two mosques in Christchurch after at gunmen opened fire on worshippers.

Imteyaz Ali, secretary of the Bolton Council of Mosques, offered condolences to those affected. He said: "Our prayers and thoughts are with the families who have lost their loved ones in this cold blooded and mindless act of terror. The horrific scenes unfolding shows this as callous and well planned attack. We strongly condemn all forms of terrorism and are confident that authorities will bring them to justice."

The flag at Bolton Town Hall was also flown at half mast after the attack.

In a Facebook message, Bolton Council said: "Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the terrorist attacks in New Zealand. The flag is being flown at half mast on Bolton Town Hall today #WeStandTogether"

The Faith Leaders of Bolton also released a statement. "As the Faith Leaders in Bolton we offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the people of New Zealand at this terrible time. Our prayers and thoughts are with the families who have lost their loved ones in this cold blooded and mindless act of terror and for all those who are injured and scarred from what they have witnessed.

"The Horrific  scenes unfolding show this as a callous and well planned attack. We strongly condemn all forms of terrorism and are confident that authorities will bring perpetrators of this act to justice. 

"We pray that at this time the diverse communities in New Zealand will stand together and that they will find strength in each other knowing that people across the world are standing with them.

"We encourage people from all the faith communities to offer prayers over this weekend for all those affected by this terrible atrocity and to pray for peace and harmony in all communities at this time."

Following the attack, police forces across the UK announced they were stepping up patrols around mosques.

This Is Lancashire:

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said: “As the rest of us prepare to undertake our own Friday prayers today, we do so with the anxiety as to whether our mosques and communities are safe in the face of unabated Islamophobia and hostility against Muslims.

"I call on our government to redouble its efforts to ensure mosques are protected, and call on fellow Muslims to resist the temptation to roll up the banners in fear, as this attack was designed to do.”

The MCB also urged the Home Office to keep open its places of worship security fund on an ongoing basis. Launched in 2016, the scheme helps churches, mosques, temples and gurdwaras to install alarms, security lighting and CCTV cameras to deter attackers.

Bolton boxer Amir Khan paid tribute to the victims. In a tweet, he said: "My heart goes out to the families of the murdered and all those impacted by this act of terror. Islamophobia kills - and has no place anywhere in the world."