Latest: Multiple fatalities in New Zealand mosque shootings

 khaleejtimes.com  03/15/2019 05:42:24  6  Reuters/AFP/AP

A gunman opened fire on Friday prayers at a mosque in New Zealand killing many worshippers and forcing the city of Christchurch into lockdown as police launched a massive manhunt.

New Zealand media reported that between nine and 27 people were killed, but the death toll could not be confirmed. Police said multiple fatalities had occurred at two mosques, but it was unclear how many attackers were involved.

Video footage widely circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, showed him driving to one mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.

The Bangladesh cricket team was arriving for prayers at the mosque when the shooting occurred but all members were safe, a team coach said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme violence.

People in centre of the city should stay indoors, police said. All Christchurch schools and council buildings have been placed into lockdown. Police did not immediately comment on whether the incident took place in the mosque or nearby. There is no official confirmation on casualties.

The Latest on shootings at mosques in New Zealand (UAE time):

9:30am

Indonesia's foreign minister says six Indonesians were at the Al Noor Mosque in New Zealand when a shooting occurred and three of them escaped.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said, "We are looking for three other Indonesian citizens."

The foreign ministry says there are 330 Indonesian citizens in Christchurch, 130 of them students.

It said it strongly condemns the attack. "The government and the people of Indonesia convey deep condolences to the victims and their families."

 9:25am

New Zealand police say they're not aware of other suspects beyond the four who have been arrested after two mosque shootings but they can't be certain.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush did not elaborate on the suspects who are in custody.

9:00am

New Zealand police say they have taken into custody three men and one woman over the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police have defused a number of improvised explosive devices found on vehicles after the mosque shootings.

A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for his actions. He said he considered it a terrorist attack.

8:45am

New Zealand police lifted a lockdown put in place after deadly armed assaults on two Christchurch mosques, allowing frantic parents to pick up their children.

"Police can now confirm the lock down of schools throughout Christchurch has been lifted," New Zealand Police said in a statement.

8:40am

New Zealand police warned against sharing footage relating to a deadly shooting in Christchurch, after a video online showed a gunman filming himself firing at worshippers inside a mosque.

"Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online," New Zealand police said in a Twitter post.

 "We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed."

8:30am

New Zealand and Bangladesh on Friday cancelled the third cricket Test after multiple people were killed in gun attacks on mosques in Christchurch, including one that was attended by the Bangladeshi team.

"A joint decision between NZC and the @BCBtigers has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test," the New Zealand team tweeted, adding that all players and officials were safe.

The third and final Test was scheduled to start on Saturday at Christchurch's Hagley Oval. New Zealand won the first two games in the series.

Bangladeshi players and team staff arrived at the city's Masjid al Noor for Friday prayers as a shooting unfolded and were warned not to go inside.

8:25am

New Zealand media reported that between nine and 27 people were killed, but the death toll could not be confirmed. Police said multiple fatalities had occurred at two mosques, but it was unclear how many attackers were involved.

7:50am

Police have warned people to avoid mosques anywhere in New Zealand following two shootings with multiple fatalities at two mosques in Christchurch.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said anyone thinking of going to a mosque should stay put and close their doors.

A man who lives near the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch said many people were dead there. A witness to a second shooting told New Zealand media he saw two wounded people being transported by rescuers afterward.

7:20am

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says following fatal shootings at two mosques in Christchurch it is "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

Ardern said at a Friday afternoon news conference, "what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."

She said while many people affected may be migrants or refugees "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."

7:02am

Police warn worshippers not to visit mosques anywhere in New Zealand. Police said there were multiple fatalities and one person was in custody, but no details were immediately available.

6:50amNew Zealand media say a shooting has occurred in a second mosque in the city of Christchurch.

No details were immediately available.

Media in #NewZealand report shooting at second mosque in city of Christchurch
Latest updates: https://t.co/Nlmtn33FmH pic.twitter.com/PToFQWY265

- Khaleej Times (@khaleejtimes) March 15, 2019


Earlier Friday afternoon, police had urged people to stay indoors as authorities responded to a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque.

6:48am

The Bangladesh cricket team is in Christchurch to play New Zealand in a third cricket test starting on Saturday.Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach of the Bangladesh cricket team said the team was close to where the shooting occurred, but was safe.

He said the players were shaken up but fine.

6:45am

Media said shots had been fired near a mosque and a witness told broadcaster One News that he had seen three people lying on the ground, bleeding outside the building.

Radio New Zealand quoted a witness inside the mosque saying he heard shots fired and at least four people were lying on the ground and "there was blood everywhere".

6:43am

People in centre of the city should stay indoors, police said. All Christchurch schools and council buildings have been placed into lockdown. Police did not immediately comment on whether the incident took place in the mosque or nearby. There is no official confirmation on casualties.

"Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred," said Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch.

6:40amA witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.Police have not described the scale of the Friday shooting but urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors.Witness Len Peneha says he saw a man dressed in black enter the Masjid Al Noor mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.He says he also saw the gunman flee before emergency services arrived

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


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