50 killed in NZ mosque shootings
Three suspects are in custody following deadly shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday.
Authorities have confirmed 50 people were killed and 48 are being treated after a gunman opened fire on worshippers at the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue and another mosque on Linwood Avenue.
The attack resulted in 42 deaths at Al Noor Mosque, seven at the Linwood Islamic Centre, and one who died in Christchurch Hospital.
Armed police responded to reports of an active shooter. Four suspects were later detained, one of whom was soon released.
Authorities have confirmed the suspected gunman, who was among those taken into custody, is an Australian-born citizen, prompting an investigating by Australian police.
The suspect identified himself as 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant in a live stream of the attack. Police have not confirmed the suspect’s identity, but he will appear before the Christchurch District Court tomorrow.
The gunman released a 73-page manifesto online shortly before the attack, in which he detailed his right-wing views and motivations including to “create an atmosphere of fear” and to “incite violence” against Muslims, and was inspired by other right-wing terrorists including Finsbury Park mosque attacker Darren Osborne and Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Brevik.
Those involved in the attack were not previously known to police.
New Zealand’s terror threat level has been raised from low to high and Christchurch Hospital has declared an emergency.
“The multiple fatalities, are as far as we know, at two locations — a mosque at Deans Ave and another mosque at Linwood Ave Christchurch,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a video update.
“Again we are unsure if there are any other locations outside of that area that are under threat.”
Police said that it is a “serious and evolving situation” and that the “risk environment remains extremely high”.
Schools in the area were in lockdown until 6:00 pm (local time).
In a brief press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the incident “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence”, and is returning to Wellington from a visit to Kenya.
Ms Ardern said:
“Presently, the police do have one suspect in custody. However, there could be others involved. Also, there are multiple scenes involved in this incident as well. And police will be giving more details as they can as the situation unfolds. Whilst I cannot give any confirmation at this stage around fatalities and casualties, what I can say is that it is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days.
Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.”
Police have urged mosques across New Zealand to close their doors and anyone planning on visiting a mosque has been advised to stay at home.
Both Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have expressed their solidarity with New Zealand.
Mr Morrison and expressed “sincere prayers and thoughts to those New Zealanders and Australians of Islamic faith today, who have been the victims of this callous right-wing extremist attack” and condemned the shooting as a terrorist attack.
The entire Bangladeshi cricket team was inside the Al Noor Mosque at the time of the attack.
They were able to escape unharmed.
This is a developing story.
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