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At least 49 people are killed and 48 injured in multiple Christchurch mosque massacres involving an Australian terrorist, 28, who live-streamed himself opening fire on worshippers - as a man in his 20s is charged with murder

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 5 days ago Alex Chapman and Ben Hill For Daily Mail Australia
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Watch: Dramatic moment suspect arrested (Evening Standard)

A white Australian right-wing terrorist who livestreamed his sickening shooting spree on Facebook is one of four people arrested over dual mosque attacks which left 49 dead and 48 injured on New Zealand’s 'darkest day'.

The gunman, who identified himself as Brenton Tarrant from Grafton, NSW, Australia, stormed the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island about 1.30pm, opening fire with a semi-automatic shotgun and a rifle on about 100 defenceless worshippers attending Friday prayers.

A sickening 17-minute video of the unfolding horror shows the self-confessed white supremacist dressed in army fatigues firing mercilessly at people scrambling to flee, and calmly reloading when he runs out of bullets.

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More on this story:

Javid condemns Australian MP's 'racist' remark (Telegraph)

Dramatic moment hero officer arrests suspect (Daily Mail)

Witness: I prayed killer would run out of bullets (Newshub)

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At about the same time, there was a second shooting at Masjid mosque in Linwood, where seven more were killed. a person talking on a cell phone: Witnesses inside the mosque reported seeing 15 people being shot, including children © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Witnesses inside the mosque reported seeing 15 people being shot, including children

In the aftermath of the bloody attacks, three men and one woman were arrested, with police charging 'one man in his late 20s' with murder. He will face court on Saturday.

LIVE: Dozens dead in New Zealand's worst terrorist attack (ABC News)

Two others remain in police custody, with the fourth person arrested deemed not to have been involved in the attacks.

Of the 49 fatalities, 41 were killed at the Al Noor Mosque and seven at the Linwood Avenue mosque. Three of the seven were slain on the streets. A 49th died in hospital.

Watch: 'We utterly condemn you', NZ PM says (PA)

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A further 48 people were rushed to Christchurch Hospital with gunshot wounds, 20 of which were in a critical condition. A dozen operating theatres were used, with many victims requiring multiple life-saving surgeries. a group of people posing for the camera: Tarrant (pictured as a child in his late father's arms) live-streamed the shooting spree to his social media account © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Tarrant (pictured as a child in his late father's arms) live-streamed the shooting spree to his social media account

New Zealand Police later evacuated families from a street in Dunedin as they investigated a home 'of interest' to the shootings. The address is believed to be the home the gunman's car is registered to.

In New Zealand's worst ever terror attack and one of the worst mass-shootings ever:

- 49 people killed by at least one gunman at two separate mosques in Christchurch on Friday from 1.30pm

- The gunman at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch - a 28-year-old Australian - live-streamed the mass shooting

- In a twisted manifesto, Tarrant wrote he targeted the mosques while training for another attack

- Four suspects - who were not known to counter-terror authorities - were being questioned in custody  a screenshot of a cell phone: At least 40 people were reported dead as a result of the twin massacres on Friday, with the total rising to 49 within an hour © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited At least 40 people were reported dead as a result of the twin massacres on Friday, with the total rising to 49 within an hour

- One of the men in his 'late 20s', whose identity has not been confirmed by police, was later charged with murder

- The Bangladesh cricket team were on their way to the Al Noor Mosque at the time of the shooting

- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday's terror attack was 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'

In a twisted manifesto believed to have been written by Tarrant, he said he targeted the places of worship because they had 'far more invaders'.

Watch: Politicians around the world condemn attacks (PA)

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'I only arrived to New Zealand to live temporarily whilst I planned and trained, but I soon found out that New Zealand was as target rich of an environment as anywhere else in the west.

'Secondly an attack in New Zealand would bring to attention the truth of the assault on our civilisation.' a man wearing a black shirt: Police arrested and charged one man aged 'in his late 20s' with murder. He is expected to face court Saturday. Pictured is Tarrant during a holiday in Pakistan © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Police arrested and charged one man aged 'in his late 20s' with murder. He is expected to face court Saturday. Pictured is Tarrant during a holiday in Pakistan

Ms Ardern condemned the attacker, saying: 'You may have chosen us, but we utterly condemn and reject you.'

Gallery: Shock after New Zealand terror attacks (Photos)

'My thoughts, and I'm sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families.'

Early reports indicated a shooting at Christchurch Hospital. However, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the mosques were the lone targets on 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'. a group of people standing next to a fence: A man wearing military fatigues (pictured) was arrested outside Papanui High School © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A man wearing military fatigues (pictured) was arrested outside Papanui High School

Dozens of families spent the night crowding the front doors of Christchurch Hospital, unsure whether their loved ones had survived.

One woman took to social media to ask whether anyone had seen her husband. a man riding on the back of a truck: At least one gunman has opened fire at a mosque in New Zealand , shooting at children and killing dozens of people © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited At least one gunman has opened fire at a mosque in New Zealand , shooting at children and killing dozens of people

'Assalamualaikum [peace be with you] currently we still don't have any news on my husband. Please keep him on your prayer.'

The nation's terror threat level was elevated to 'high alert' following the terror attacks, the second highest possible. a man riding on the back of a truck: Witnesses reported hearing 50 shots and police are responding to the incident at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Witnesses reported hearing 50 shots and police are responding to the incident at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island

However, police have confirmed there are no further suspects.

a close up of a sign: A pair of mosque massacres have torn through Christchurch on Friday, resulting in 49 deaths and three related arrests © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A pair of mosque massacres have torn through Christchurch on Friday, resulting in 49 deaths and three related arrests

AUTHORITIES RESPOND TO THE ATTACKS

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed the death toll had risen to 49 as of 9pm local time.

Watch: Corbyn calls for respect in wake of attacks (ITN)

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'This is absolutely tragic. So many people are affected. We don't know the identities of those who have died yet because those places are in lockdown,' he said in a statement at about 6pm.

Speaking of the victims, Commissioner Bush said: 'Our love and thoughts go out to them and all of their family, all of their friends and all of their loved ones.' a group of people standing on top of a car: One of the gunmen live-streamed the mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque, which happened at 1.30pm as Friday prayers were underway © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited One of the gunmen live-streamed the mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque, which happened at 1.30pm as Friday prayers were underway

He also praised local police officers who responded to the attacks.

'We have staff around the country making sure everyone is safe, including armed offenders at all mosques. Police staff have gone above and beyond to protect people today.' a circuit board: The shooter's weapons were marked with the names of other people who have carried out attacks © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The shooter's weapons were marked with the names of other people who have carried out attacks

Armed police were seen patrolling the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Auckland after the attack in Christchurch.

He earlier urged Muslims in New Zealand not to go to mosques on Friday. The shooter's weapons were marked with the names of other people who have carried out attacks © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The shooter's weapons were marked with the names of other people who have carried out attacks

Commissioner Bush said four people were taken in custody with one later released. He also confirmed there were bombs attached to a car near the scene of the shootings, which were disarmed before they could detonate.

a man standing next to a palm tree in front of a fence: Armed police maintain a presence outside the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Manurewa in Auckland after the attack in Christchurch © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Armed police maintain a presence outside the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Manurewa in Auckland after the attack in Christchurch

Ms Ardern condemned the attacks, saying they were 'an unprecedented act of violence, an act that has no place in New Zealand.

'This is not who we are.

'The people who were the subject of this attack today, New Zealand is their home. They should be safe here. The person who has perpetuated this violent act against them, they have no place in New Zealand society.' 

She confirmed that police believe the attacks were 'meticulously' planned out. a group of people in uniform: Survivors gather near the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Road hours after the place of worship was attacked © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Survivors gather near the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Road hours after the place of worship was attacked

Ms Ardern flew to Wellington from Christchurch to hold a crisis meeting at parliament.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was 'horrified' by the 'callous, right wing extremist attack'. a group of people standing in the grass: Police escort distraught witnesses away from a mosque in central Christchurch following twin massacres © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Police escort distraught witnesses away from a mosque in central Christchurch following twin massacres

'The situation is still unfolding but our thoughts and prayers are with our Kiwi cousins,' he said.

He and Ms Ardern discussed the repercussions of the attack later Friday evening. Australia's terror threat level did not change as a result of the attacks.

Jacinda Ardern wearing a suit and tie: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the shootings were an 'unprecedented act of violence' © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the shootings were an 'unprecedented act of violence'

SICKENING ATTACK SHARED ONLINE

The suspected gunman shared a 73-page manifesto to Twitter before the killings, foreshadowing a 'terrorist attack'. 

He entered the Al Noor Mosque on Friday during afternoon prayers and opened fire, capturing the attack on a camera strapped to his helmet. a group of people riding on the back of a truck: Armed police push back members of the public trying to reach the mosque to check on fellow worshippers © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Armed police push back members of the public trying to reach the mosque to check on fellow worshippers

The distressing video streamed to his Facebook profile shows the 28-year-old man firing more than 100 shots at those inside.

His guns were scrawled with the names of past mass killers and cities where the shootings occurred.

The gunman's rampage began when he got into his car wearing military-style body armour and a helmet saying 'let's get this party started'.

He then drove to the mosque listening to folk music and military tunes before parking in an alley around the corner. a group of people standing in front of a building: Worshippers in Bangledesh march through the streets of Dhaka to condemn the Christchurch mosque attacks © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Worshippers in Bangledesh march through the streets of Dhaka to condemn the Christchurch mosque attacks

THE UPBRINGING OF A SHOOTER:

Brenton Tarrant, 28, grew up in Grafton, a small town in northern New South Wales.

Tarrant's father, who was a competitive athlete and completed 75 triathlons, died of cancer in 2010 aged just 49. His mother still lives in the area.

Tarrant attended a local high school and then worked as a personal trainer at the local Big River Squash and Fitness Centre from 2010.

A woman who knew Tarrant through the gym said he had always followed a strict dietary and exercise regime.

'He was very dedicated to his own training and to training others,' she said. 'He threw himself into his own personal training and then qualified as a trainer and trained others. He was very good.'

'When I say he was dedicated, he was dedicated more than most people would be. a person riding a motorcycle down a street: AOS (Armed Offenders Squad) push back members of the public following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited AOS (Armed Offenders Squad) push back members of the public following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque

'He was in the gym for long periods of time, lifting heaving weights. He pretty much transformed his body.'

The woman said she had not spoken to him or heard him talk about his political or religious beliefs.

'From the conversations we had about life he didn't strike me as someone who had any interest in that or extremist views,' she said.

'But I know he's been travelling since he left Grafton. He has been travelling overseas, anywhere and everywhere. a group of people standing next to a car: Members of a family react outside the mosque following the shooting in Christchurch © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Members of a family react outside the mosque following the shooting in Christchurch

'I would say it's something in the nature of his travels, something he's been around.

'I know he's been to lots of different countries trying to experience lots of different things in life and I would say something's happened in that time in his travels.'

After retrieving one of at least six guns stored in his car, he walked up to the front door and began firing indiscriminately at worshippers inside.

The gunman stormed inside and fired quick bursts at anyone he saw. One wounded man tried to crawl away but was shot again after he calmly reloaded.

He fired into crowds of huddled worshipers, sometimes not even looking where he was shooting, reloading numerous times. a group of people sitting around a car: Pictured: Grieving members of the public after the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Pictured: Grieving members of the public after the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

When then sound of his gun stopped between magazines, the moaning of wounded people could be heard until the shots began again.

Several times he stood over wounded men, reloaded his gun, and shot them multiple times to make sure they were dead. 

Tarrant then walked outside and appeared to fire on at least two targets, returned to his car and swapped his shotgun for a rifle.

Returning to the mosque he walked over to a pile of dead or wounded men in the room and began shooting them in the head to ensure they were dead.

Once he was satisfied everyone was dead, he ran outside and shot another person he saw on the mosque's front lawn. a vase of flowers on a table: A floral tribute to the victims of the Christchurch massacres is seen on the same avenue as the second mosque © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A floral tribute to the victims of the Christchurch massacres is seen on the same avenue as the second mosque

The woman stumbled on to the street and was lying face down in the gutter yelling 'help me, help me' as the shooter walked up to her.

Tarrant calmly leaned over her and shot her twice in the head.

Seconds later he returned to his car and drove over her body to make his escape, stopping to shoot at least one other person through his car window.

As he drove he expressed regret for not staying longer and 'burning the mosque to the ground'. Two jerry cans of petrol were earlier seen the the back his car.

'But, s**t happens,' he said. 'I left one full magazine back there, I know for sure. I had to run along in the middle of the firefight and pick it up. a clock in the middle of a watch: A terrorist who opened fire on a New Zealand mosque published an online manifesto detailing his plans to carry out a massacre hours before the attack © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A terrorist who opened fire on a New Zealand mosque published an online manifesto detailing his plans to carry out a massacre hours before the attack

'There wasn't even time to aim there were so many targets. There were so many people, the car park was full, so there's no real chance of improvement.'

Footage from within the Masjid mosque later showed survivors tending to the wounded.

THE SHOOTER'S MANIFESTO

In a manifesto seemingly written by Tarrant and shared to Twitter, he mentions being inspired by other shooters including Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Oslo, Norway in 2011.

He said he 'disliked' Muslims and hated those who had converted to the religion, calling them 'blood traitors'. a person sitting on a bench talking on a cell phone: A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone near a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone near a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand

Tarrant said he originally wanted to target a mosque in Dunedin, south of Christchurch, after watching a video on Facebook.

'But after visiting the mosques in Christchurch and Linwood and seeing the desecration of the church that had been converted to a mosque in Ashburton, my plans changed,' he wrote.

'The Christchurch and Linwood mosques had far more invaders.' 

He said he had been planning an attack for up to two years and decided on Christchurch three months ago.  a car driving down a busy city street: Police rushed to an Auckland train station after reports of abandoned backpacks. The bomb disposal robot (pictured) detonated a bomb in a 'controlled explosion' while commuters were cordoned off © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Police rushed to an Auckland train station after reports of abandoned backpacks. The bomb disposal robot (pictured) detonated a bomb in a 'controlled explosion' while commuters were cordoned off

The shooter said he was motivated to carry out the attack by the death of Swedish schoolgirl Ebba Akerlund, a girl who was killed in a terrorist attack in Stockholm in April 2017.

Tarrant said he was a supporter of Donald Trump as a 'symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose'. 

a group of people looking at a phone: Police escort people away from outside one of the mosques targeting in the shooting © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Police escort people away from outside one of the mosques targeting in the shooting

He described himself as 'just a regular white man'.

He said he was born to 'working class, low-income family... who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people'.

'My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock. I had a regular childhood, without any great issues,' he wrote. 

The gunman said he carried out the massacre to 'directly reduce immigration rates to European lands'.  a couple of people that are standing together in uniform: A police officer photographs witnesses near the scene of one of the shootings © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A police officer photographs witnesses near the scene of one of the shootings

He said New Zealand was not his 'original choice' for the attack but said the location would show 'that nowhere in the world was safe'.

'We must ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children,' he wrote. 

He wrote that the shooting was an 'act of revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history'.

'For the enslavement of millions of Europeans taken from their lands by the Islamic slavers... for the thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks throughout European lands,' the gunman wrote. a person talking on a cell phone: Witnesses inside the mosque reported seeing 15 people being shot, including children © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Witnesses inside the mosque reported seeing 15 people being shot, including children

He shared photos to his now-removed Twitter account ahead of the attacks, showing weapons and military-style equipment.

In posts online before the attack Tarrant wrote about 'taking the fight to the invaders myself'.  a group of people standing in the grass: A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath

'THERE WERE BODIES ALL OVER ME'

Mohammed Jama, the former president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, said a man with a gun entered the Christchurch Mosque about 1.40pm local time on Friday.

A man inside the mosque at the time of the shooting said there 'bodies all over me'.

Witnesses inside the mosque reported seeing 15 people being shot, including children.

A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath.

'My wife is dead,' he said while wailing.

a group of people standing next to a car: Witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud described one of the shooters as being white, with blond hair and wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud described one of the shooters as being white, with blond hair and wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest

Witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud described one of the shooters as being white, with blond hair and wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest.

'The guy was wearing like an army [suit]. He had a big gun and lots of bullets. He came through and started shooting everyone in the mosque, everywhere,' Ahmad Al-Mahmoud told Stuff.

'They had to smash the door - the glass from the window and the door - to get everyone out.

'We were trying to get everyone to run away from this area. I ran away from the car park, jumping through the back [yard] of houses.'

Al-Mahmoud said the man was 'wearing a helmet' and must have fired 'hundreds' of gunshots.     a car driving down a busy city street: The mosque has capacity to hold more than 300 people © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The mosque has capacity to hold more than 300 people

Another witness said he ran behind the mosque to call the police after hearing the gun go off. 

'I heard the sound of the gun. And the second one I heard, I ran. Lots of people were sitting on the floor. I ran behind the mosque, rang the police. 

'I saw one gun on the floor. Lots of people died and injured.' 

Another survivor, identified only as Nour, told the New Zealand Herald that the gunman shot multiple worshipers outside before carrying out his rampage inside the mosque where he shot people indiscriminately. a group of people standing on top of a grass covered field: The Bangladesh cricket team (pictured) were on their way to Al Noor Mosque when shooting broke out inside © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Bangladesh cricket team (pictured) were on their way to Al Noor Mosque when shooting broke out inside

HEROIC POLICE OFFICER INTERVENES 

A person suspected of being involved in the Christchurch mosque shooting was taken into custody on Friday afternoon in a dramatic roadside arrest.

Footage filmed by a passing motorist shows the suspect's grey station wagon wedged between the gutter and another police car, with its front wheels in the air spinning.

The suspect appeared to still be inside, as officers approached the vehicle with their weapons drawn.

One officer reached inside the vehicle and dragged a person out, as a second stood guard with their weapon drawn. a group of people standing in the grass: A man was seen with bloodstains on his trousers near the mosque after the shooting, as 48 people are left with gun wounds © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A man was seen with bloodstains on his trousers near the mosque after the shooting, as 48 people are left with gun wounds

The suspect was seen wearing dark clothing, and in the footage an officer appears to have hit the person.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said there were 'some absolute acts of bravery' during the arrests of four people. a couple of people that are standing in the street: A police officer gestures to a person outside the mosque after the shooting in Christchurch © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A police officer gestures to a person outside the mosque after the shooting in Christchurch

 BANGLADESH CRICKET TEAM NARROWLY ESCAPED

Bangladesh players and support staff have been preparing for the third test of a series against New Zealand, set to begin on Saturday, and were walking through Hagley Park when shooting broke out at the Al Noor mosque.

Tweets from sports reporters and team members say the group 'just escaped' the shooting, which saw a man enter the mosque and fire multiple shots at dozens of people as they tried to flee. 

The team's opening batsman, Tamim Iqbal said on Twitter the 'entire team got saved from active shooters'.

He said it was a 'frightening experience' and asked supporters to keep the team in their prayers. a group of people posing for the camera: Members of the public react in front of the Al Noor Mosque as they fear for their relatives © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Members of the public react in front of the Al Noor Mosque as they fear for their relatives

Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim said Allah had saved the team.

'We r [sic] extremely lucky,' he wrote. 'Never want to see this things [sic] happen again... pray for us.'

Shrinivas Chandrasekaran, the team's performance and strategic analyst said they had 'just escaped active shooters'. He said their hearts were pounding and there was 'panic everywhere'.

ESPN cricinfo correspondent Mohammad Isam told the New Zealand Herald the team were 'not in a mental state to play cricket at all,' following the horrific attack.

'I think they want to go back home as soon as possible. I’m speaking from experience, I’m speaking from what I’ve heard,' he said. a woman standing in front of a fence: Parents refuse to leave without their children as their school, Te Waka Unua School, was in lockdown for hours on Friday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Parents refuse to leave without their children as their school, Te Waka Unua School, was in lockdown for hours on Friday

'Everyone is at the Hagley Park dressing room ... two players are back at the hotel. They didn’t come out for the prayers so they are back at the hotel and the entire coaching staff are safe.'

The scheduled test between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been cancelled. 

A witness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and saw 'blood everywhere'. 

Mr Jama said four people were injured and that he saw two people lying on the ground. He did not know if they were alive or dead, Stuff reported.   a person sitting in a car talking on a cell phone: A shirtless man speaks on the phone as an armed police officer patrols the area outside a mosque in Christchurch © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A shirtless man speaks on the phone as an armed police officer patrols the area outside a mosque in Christchurch

There may have been more than one shooter inside the mosque, the New Zealand Herald reported.

A man inside the mosque said he ran behind the building when he heard gunfire, One News reported.

He said he saw people lying on the ground in pools of blood. 

A woman told the Christchurch Star she lay down in her car as four or five men came running towards her before hearing gunfire moments later. 

Security expert Paul Buchanan told RNZ the killings were 'the worst terrorist attack' ever to take place in New Zealand.  a car parked on the side of a road: Witnesses reported hearing as many as 50 gunshots at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Witnesses reported hearing as many as 50 gunshots at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island

The gunman's rifle and magazines reportedly had the names of other shooters who had killed people at mosques written on them.

A bomb was found in a grey Subaru Legacy three kilometres from the scene of the shooting on Strickland Street, The Guardian reported.

Another witness said people had to smash windows to escape the mosque.  

a man driving a car: Police urged people near the area to stay indoors and report suspicious behaviour, describing the incident as 'critical' © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Police urged people near the area to stay indoors and report suspicious behaviour, describing the incident as 'critical'

Twenty armed police officers cleared areas in the suburb of Linwood, and led about five men with their hands on their heads out of a building in the area.  

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the shooting was a 'serious and evolving situation'.

'Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high,' he said. a group of people standing in a parking lot: Shocked family members are seen standing out the front of the mosque, unsure whether their loved ones have survived © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Shocked family members are seen standing out the front of the mosque, unsure whether their loved ones have survived

'Police recommend that residents across Christchurch remain off the streets and indoors until further notice. Christchurch schools will be locked down until further notice.'

The lockdown ended after about three hours.  

a group of baseball players standing on top of a cage: The gunman entered and opened fire while hundreds of people were inside the packed mosque for Friday prayers © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The gunman entered and opened fire while hundreds of people were inside the packed mosque for Friday prayers

The shooting happened near Cathedral Square where thousands of children were protesting for climate change action.

The protesting children were told to go home to ensure their safety.

New Zealand Police said armed officers were deployed to Hagley Park and at Christchurch Hospital.

A witness said they heard at least 50 gunshots and saw people lying on the ground. a car driving down a street: A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A man who escaped the mosque during the shooting said he saw his wife lying dead on the footpath

Another witness said he saw a car chasing two people from outside the mosque along Deans Avenue.

He said the people in the car began shooting at the two people.

Two abandoned backpacks sparked another bomb scare at Auckland's largest train station. A bomb disposal robot was used to investigate the backpacks while pedestrians were cordoned off.

A 'controlled explosion' was heard soon after.

a view of a city: Armed police officers were seen outside Christchurch Hospital after the shooting, remaining there through the night © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Armed police officers were seen outside Christchurch Hospital after the shooting, remaining there through the night

Christchurch Boys' and Girls' high schools were both been placed into lockdown. The restrictions were lifted hours later.

Parents of students at Christchurch Girls' High School were sent a text message telling them the lockdown was 'not an exercise'.  

The Canterbury District Health Board activated its mass casualty plan and the city council placed its central city buildings into lockdown. 

Rugby star Sonny Bill Williams shared an emotional tribute to those killed in Friday's mosque shooting.

In a video posted to Twitter, a tearful Williams, who is a proud Muslim, said he 'couldn't put into words how I feel right now'.

The 33-year-old told followers he was sending prayers to the loved ones of those killed, and praying himself the victims would end up in paradise.

'Just sending my duas (prayers) and Mashallah (god willing) - everyone that's been killed today in Christchurch... your families ... [I'm] just sending my duas to your loved ones and Mashallah you guys are all in paradise,' he said.

'I'm just deeply, deeply saddened that this would happen in New Zealand.' 

One per cent of New Zealand's population of five million are Muslim, according to government statistics. 

Worst peacetime gun massacres 

New Zealand's worst ever gun massacre ranks among some of the world's most horrible mass murders.

The death toll has surpassed Australia's April 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, which saw 35 people gunned down at an historic tourist attraction. New Prime Minister John Howard spearheaded national gun laws in the wake of this tragedy.

It occurred just seven weeks after Scotland's Dunblane massacre, which saw 16 children and one teacher shot dead near the town of Stirling.

Port Arthur was the world's worst peaceful massacre until June 2016, when a 29-year-old security guard killed 49 people at the American Pulse gay nightclub at Orlando, Florida. Friday's Auckland attack has now matched that total.

Just over a year later, in October 2017,  a gunman opened fire killing 58 people at the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas.

The United States has been home to a spate of gun massacres, defined as the death of four or more people.

In April 2007, 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech when a student opened fire at Blacksburg.

In December 2012, a gunman shot and killed 20 children aged between six and seven years old at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

In November 2017, a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church at Sutherland Springs in Texas, killing 27 people, including the 14-year-old daughter of the church pastor. 

Until now, New Zealand had not had a mass shooting since June 1994, when David Bain, 22, killed his father Robin, mother Margaret, his sisters Arawa and Laniet , and his brother Stephen.

New Zealand tightened gun laws after the Aramoana massacre of November 1990, which saw 13 people shot dead in a small township near Dunedin , following a neighbourhood dispute. 

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