49 People Killed In Mosque Attacks In New Zealand
Forty-nine people have been killed and more than 20 seriously wounded in mosque attacks in New Zealand.
The shootings, which took place at around 1:40pm on Thursday 15 March at two mosques in Christchurch, have been described by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as one of the country’s ‘darkest days’.
Authorities are calling it an unprecedented act of violence.
Witnesses told local media survivors ran for their lives past people bleeding on the ground outside the Al Noor mosque, in the centre of the city located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
The first report of an attack came from this mosque, which is opposite Hagley Park, and most details have come so far from eye-witnesses.
The attacker reportedly targeted the men’s prayer room in the mosque, then moved to the women’s room.
One witness told TV New Zealand, per the BBC:
What I did was basically just waiting and praying, God please, let this guy run out of bullets.
He came to this side, he shot this side, he went to another room and went to the ladies’ section and shot them.
I just heard one of the ladies has died.
A Palestinian man, who did not wish to be named, told AFP:
I heard three quick shots, then after about 10 seconds it started again – it must have been an automatic, no one could pull a trigger that quick.
Then people started running out. Some were covered in blood.
Footage taken by one shooter has emerged, which he appears to have live-streamed as he shot victims in one of the mosques. Police said the public should not share the ‘extremely distressing’ material online.
Facebook has removed the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
A second mosque in Christchurch, in the suburb of Linwood has been evacuated, and Police Commissioner Mike Bush said ‘multiple fatalities’ were recorded at two locations.
Authorities said they had also stopped ‘a number’ of explosive devices ‘attached to vehicles’.
All mosques in the city have been advised to shut down until further notice. Armed police have also been seen at Papanui High School in Christchurch, which is cordoned off.
Three men and one woman are in custody, Bush has confirmed, but warned more suspects may be at large. It is not yet known how many shooters were involved in the atrocity.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of those arrested was an Australian citizen.
He described the suspected attacker as an ‘extremist right-wing violent terrorist’, who is believed to have written a manifesto outlining his intentions.
In it, he utilises far right and anti-immigrant ideology.
Multiple casualties have been brought to Christchurch Hospital. The latest death toll is 49.
There is a heavy police presence on site of the hospital.
Police have also cleared Cathedral Square, where thousands of children had been holding a rally for action on climate change.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said:
Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.
Police recommend that residents across Christchurch remain off the streets and indoors until further notice.
Our thoughts are with all affected.
If you’re concerned and need to contact a friend or relative please visit the International Committee of the Red Cross, who have set up a website by which you can restore links and register your own safety.