New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that 49 people have been killed and at least 20 others injured after gunmen opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand.
It has been reported that the gunmen opened fire for around ten to fifteen minutes causing armed police to be deployed at the scenes.
The shootings occurred at Al Noor mosque on Dean’s Road and the Linwood Masjid on Linwood Avenue, both in the city of Christchurch.
New Zealand police are aware of a video shared online that purports to show a gunman walking into an unnamed mosque and opening fire. They have asked social media users to stop sharing graphic footage circulating online relating to the incident in Christchurch.
“I was in the mosque. It’s a big mosque and there were more than 200 people inside. The gunmen came from the backside. Gunshots went on for a long time. We had to jump the wall to escape. I saw lots of broken glass and bricks on the backside of the mosque,” a witness said.
Police have confirmed that as part of the attack, a number of IEDs or improvised explosive devices were also found attached to cars in the city.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the attack appeared to be well planned and said the country had been chosen for its strong multicultural values.
“We were chosen because we represent diversity, kindness compassion, a home for those who share our values, a refuge for those who need it and those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack,” she said.
Ardern said while the attackers may have chosen New Zealand, but “we utterly condemn and reject you.”
City on Lockdown
Following the incident, Christchurch has been put on lockdown with all schools and council buildings shut and roads closed across the city.
Christchurch is a coastal city of 404,500 residents. It is the second-most-populous city in New Zealand behind Auckland and Wellington. It has an agricultural economy.
According to government statistics, just 1 percent of New Zealand’s population of almost five million are Muslim, less than 50,000 people.
4 People in Custody Over the Incident
New Zealand police have confirmed that they arrested four people in connection to the shooting in the two Christchurch mosques.
Three of those in custody are men while one is a woman.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said at least one of the Christchurch attackers is an Australian born citizen.
Speaking at a press conference in Sydney, Morrison condemned the attackers as “extremist right wing, violent terrorists.”