Srinagar: The death toll in twin terrorist attacks in two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch on Friday has reached 49 while dozens others are injured, New Zealand Herald reported. Seven died at Linwood, 41 at mosque near Hagley Park, the report said.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said 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.
The prime minister said the events in Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence” and acknowledged many of those affected may be migrants and refugees.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she said. “From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned.”
“Two explosive devices attached to suspect vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed,” she added.
The deadliest terror attack occurred at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1:45 p.m.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that an Australian citizen was arrested in New Zealand’s mosque shootings. He called the attacker an “extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.”
New Zealand’s Police Commissioner Mike Bush said that three men and a woman were in custody after shootings at two mosques.
He further said a number of IEDs that were attached to vehicles were found and made safe by their defence force.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier said there was no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme violence.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” the prime minister said adding that, “Clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
Witnesses said media that a man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle had started randomly shooting people in the Al Noor mosque. He had live-streamed the shooting on Facebook.
Police said earlier they were hunting “an active shooter” in the center of Christchurch city and advised people to stay away from mosques.
“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.” (With inputs from TRT World and Al Jazeera)