Mass shooting at Christchurch mosque

 9news.com.au  03/15/2019 02:31:00   

BREAKING: Police are responding to reports of a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Canterbury Police confirmed on Twitter they were responding to a "critical incident" and urged people to avoid the area around Deans Avenue, in the centre of the city.

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Several hundred people are believed to have been inside the Masjid Al Noor mosque at the time and schools in the area have been placed into lockdown.

Witnesses reported hearing at least 20 shots, with police warning an "active shooter" is still at large.

The number of casualties is not yet known.

Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running away in terror.

He said he also saw the gunman flee before emergency services arrived.

Mr Peneha says he went into the mosque to try and help: "I saw dead people everywhere."

A man told stuff.co.nz they heard multiple shots before police swarmed the area.

"I heard 20 or more gunshots I thought something happened and the people were running on the other side of Deans Avenue and now I can see so many police," he said.

Another witness told TVNZ he heard gunfire at around 1.45pm local time.

"I heard a big sound of the gun. And a second shot, I ran," the worshipper said.

"Lots of people were sitting on the floor. I ran around the door, I ran behind the mosque."

The man said he saw around four people injured and "lots of blood on the floor".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her scheduled engagements for the rest of the day.

The Bangladesh cricket team was reportedly at the mosque at the time of the shooting but escaped through a side door.

ESPN Cricinfo journalist Mohammad Isam tweeted a video of players fleeing from the building.

Batsman Tamim Iqbal said the entire team had made it out safely.

WHAT WE KNOW

  • The shooting happened at Masjid Al Noor mosque in Hagley Park at 1.40pm Friday local time
  • Schools across the city are in lockdown
  • Witnesses reported seeing people on the ground and “blood everywhere”

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