New Zealand Terror Attack: 40 Killed in Mosque Shootings
Four people arrested following fatal shootings at two mosques in Christchurch
Four people have been arrested by New Zealand police and at least 40 people have been confirmed dead following a terrorist attack in Christchurch in which gunmen opened fire at two mosques.
New Zealand’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, said police had taken three men and one woman into custody in connection with shootings at multiple locations.
Bush added that defense forces have also made safe a number of improvised explosive devices that had been attached to vehicles.
“There have been huge acts of bravery to apprehend these people, but let’s not assume that the threat is over,” said Mr. Bush, with police warning residents of the city to stay indoors until it is clear that all perpetrators are in custody.
One of the gunmen is reported to have filmed the shooting incident at the mosque and broadcast it live on social media, along with a manifesto outlining his views.
Police urged people not to share the distressing footage and said they were working to have it removed it from the internet.
Police would not discuss the motives behind the attacks but they asked all mosques in New Zealand to shut their doors, and advised people to refrain from visiting them.
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, described the Friday's events as an “extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” saying the perpetrator had no place in New Zealand.
“It is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” she said.
Ms. Ardern later added that 20 people were seriously injured and in hospital and none of the people in custody was on security watch lists.
Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, confirmed that one of the gunmen is an Australian-born citizen and condemned what he described as an attack by “an extremist.”
There have been very few mass shooting events in New Zealand, with the worst incident occurring in 1990 when gunman David Gray killed 13 people in a rampage after a dispute with a neighbor in a small town near Dunedin.
Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, who was in one of the Christchurch mosques, told the Stuff.com news website that the shooter was wearing army-style camouflage clothing, wore a helmet and carried a large gun with lots of ammunition.
“He came through and started shooting everyone in the mosque like everywhere.
"And they had to smash the door, the glass in the small door, and everyone tried to get out — so we were trying to get everyone to run away from that area,” he said.
He said the attacker fired at least 40 shots.
Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch’s mayor, said she was shocked beyond words by the shootings.
“I would never have expected anything like this to happen in Christchurch, I'd never expect this to happen in New Zealand,” she said.
Muslim leaders have responded in horror to the tragic incident.
“This is the worst event in recent New Zealand history. We are shattered. We are devastated,” Hazim Arafeh, a former president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand told state broadcaster Radio New Zealand.
Members of the Bangladesh cricket team were in the vicinity of the shooting but the team coach said all players were safe.
Christchurch, home to about 400,000 people, is the country’s third-largest city.