Christchurch: At least two gunmen opened fire at two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city on Friday, with the police saying that there were “multiple fatalities”. The shootings took place at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Masjid, The New Zealand Herald reported.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed “multiple fatalities”, adding that there was one person in custody “but we are unsure if there are other people”. “Again we are unsure if there are any other locations outside of that area. We have mobilised every police resource in the Canterbury location to respond to this and we are also in the process of mobilising every national police resource to keep people safe,” Bush told the media here.
One gunman, believed to be Australian, filmed as he shot victims in the mosque – and wrote a manifesto declaring his intentions, saying that “it is a terrorist attack”, according to Bush. Addressing a media conference in New Plymouth, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the events in Christchurch as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
Ardern described the event as “extreme and unprecedented violence”. There were also reports of a third active shooting unfolding outside Christchurch Hospital and and a car bomb in Strickland St, but these two incidents were yet to be verified. Authorities advised people not to go to mosques until further notice. All Christchurch schools are on lockdown.
Apart from numerous witness reports of casualties, a reporter following the Bangladesh cricket team, who are currently in New Zealand, tweeted that the team had “escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters”. Player Tamim Iqbal tweeted that the “entire team got saved from active shooters”. Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said most of the team had gone to mosque by bus and were about to go inside when the incident took place. Yunus confirmed that all the players were safe.