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New Zealand mosque massacre: 49 killed in mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques as gunman live streams terror attack

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 15/03/2019 Hatty Collier, Sean Morrison, Jacob Jarvis
a group of people posing for the camera © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Forty-nine people have been killed and dozens are wounded after two mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand with one of the attacks live-streamed on Facebook.

At least one gunman opened fire on worshippers in Christchurch with the city centre being placed on lockdown following the massacre on Friday.

Forty-eight other people are being treated for gunshot wounds including children, officials said. Police have charged a man with murder. Two other men and a woman remain in custody.

The suspect has been named in media reports as 28-year-old Australian man Brenton Tarrant. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a terrorist attack that appeared to have been "well planned."

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Police said they were aware of social media footage appearing to show a gunman live-streaming as he entered one of the mosques and opening fire.

a man driving a car: The shooter live-streamed the attack online (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The shooter live-streamed the attack online (AP)

A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings published a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for his actions.

An image taken from the reported live-stream of the shooting which shows the guns used (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited An image taken from the reported live-stream of the shooting which shows the guns used (AP)

In the manifesto, he said he only came to New Zealand only to plan and train for the attack.

The shooter is believed to be a 28-year-old Australian man.

Four people, three men and a woman, were arrested and taken into custody after the attacks, police said.

New Zealand's police commissioner Mike Bush said police believe one of the people arrested may have had nothing to do with the attacks.

Work is being done to establish if there was involvement from the two other apprehended in possession of firearms.

Mr Bush refused to name the suspect who has been charged.

a group of people standing on top of a car: Armed police patrol outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Armed police patrol outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand (AP)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that one of the four people taken into custody in New Zealand's mosque shootings is an Australian.

Police have confirmed that 49 people have died in today’s shooting. 48 people are being treated for gunshot wounds with 20 of them believed to be seriously injured.

The national terror threat level has been raised from low to high.

a man in a yellow car parked in a parking lot: Police and ambulance staff help a wounded man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch (AP) © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB Police and ambulance staff help a wounded man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch (AP)

Mr Bush confirmed there were fatalities at two locations, a mosque in Dean Avenue and another Linwood Avenue.

a car driving down a busy city street: Ambulances line the street outside the mosque in central Christchurch (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Ambulances line the street outside the mosque in central Christchurch (AP)

Officers also found improvised explosive devices in the area

a group of people riding on the back of a truck: A wounded man is loaded into an ambulance from outside a mosque in central Christchurch (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited A wounded man is loaded into an ambulance from outside a mosque in central Christchurch (AP)

Ms Ardern was asked about the attackers not being on intelligence agency watch-lists and said it was an indication they "had not acted in a way that warranted it".

She was asked if she had any information from Australia about whether they had been on watch-lists there and said: "My understanding at this stage is that they weren't on watch-lists."

Asked about the ages of victims, she said: "I will have been amongst other members of the public who will have seen the footage as the injured were being brought to Christchurch A&E and you certainly can see from that footage there is a real range of ages there.

"I imagine that these would have represented particular brothers, fathers, sons."

a man in a police car parked in a parking lot: Mosque attack: A man rests on the ground as he speaks on his mobile phone across the road from a mosque in Christchurch (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Mosque attack: A man rests on the ground as he speaks on his mobile phone across the road from a mosque in Christchurch (AP)

Prime Minister Ms Ardern alluded to anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive, saying that while many people affected by the shootings 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."

a man driving a car: Armed police at the scene in New Zealand (AFP/Getty Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Armed police at the scene in New Zealand (AFP/Getty Images)

Ms Ardern added: "what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."

She described today as "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

Police said they had responded to reports of shots fired at about 1.40pm local time.

Commissioner Bush asked "anyone that was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand today not to go."

"Close your doors until you hear from us again."

All schools in the city were put into lockdown as the situation unfolded.

a group of people walking down the street: Police place the scene on lockdown after an attack on a mosque in central Christchurch (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Police place the scene on lockdown after an attack on a mosque in central Christchurch (AP)

Officers said that armed police were deployed after receiving reports of shots being fired.

Witness Mohan Ibrahim said he was one of 200 people in the Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue when he heard shots fired.

He told the New Zealand Herald: "At first we thought it was an electric shock but then all these people started running."

a group of people standing next to a car: Police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch (AP)

"I still have friends inside," he added.

"I have been calling my friends but there are many I haven't heard from. I am scared for my friends' lives."

Members of the Bangladesh cricket team, currently on tour in New Zealand, said on social media that they had nearly been caught up in the tragedy.

Tamim Iqbal tweeted: "Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers."

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

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

"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.

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