New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned the incident and said was a terror attack.
CHRISTCHURCH – At least 49 people were killed and many more injured when gunmen said to be whites opened indiscriminate fire at two mosques in Christchurch city on Friday in what a shocked New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said was a terror attack.
41 people were killed at the Al Noor Mosque near Hagley Park and seven at the Linwood Avenue Mosque. One person died in hospital, The New Zealand Herald reported.
“It is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said, adding that New Zealand had been placed on its highest security threat level. She said four people in police custody held extremist views, but had not been on any police watchlists.
There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was,” said Ardern in earlier remarks. “It is clear this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings said in a manifesto that he was a 28-year-old white Australian who came to New Zealand only to plan and train for the attack.
The gunman who killed numerous worshippers in a New Zealand mosque on Friday was a right-wing extremist with Australian citizenship, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Morrison said the shooting in Christchurch was carried out by “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist” who was an Australian-born citizen.
He declined to provide further details, saying the investigation was being led by New Zealand authorities.
The assailant, identified as 28-year-old Breton Tarrant, shared the attack live on his social media account, but Facebook was quick to react and delete the video.
The footage showed that the guns used by Tarrant during the attack beared the names of some historic figures fought against Muslims, as well as assailants of older attacks targeting Muslims in Europe and in North America.
Residents in Christchurch were advised to stay indoors and notify authorities if they see anything suspicious.
The country’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, said three men and a woman were arrested following the shooting. He said there were “significant” number of casualties.
There were up to 200 worshipers inside the mosques for Friday Prayers.
Witness Len Peneha told reporters a man dressed in black entered the mosque and fired before running away before security forces arrived. Peneha said he saw “dead people everywhere” when he entered the Al Noor mosque to help those who were wounded.