New Zealand witnessed the deadliest terrorist attack in its history when 49 have been killed and at least 20 injured in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who cut short all his engagements described the incident as a terrorist attack and one of New Zealand’s “darkest days”.
A man in his late twenties was charged with murder while two other men and one woman were detained nearby and firearms and explosive devices recovered, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
He said one of those detained was later released, while officers were working to determine if the other two were involved.
The attack came during Friday prayer when hundreds of Muslims gathered in the church including the Bangladesh cricket team.
Meanwhile the Bangladesh cricket team had a narrow escape on Friday morning at the Christchurch Mosque as unknown assailant opened fire in two mosques killing 40 people and injuring 20. The incident has triggered a major panic in New Zealand.
A gunman reportedly opened fire at the mosque, with the former president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Mohammed Jama saying a man with a gun went into the mosque about 1.40pm on Friday.
The New Zeland Security commandos have arrived in the central Christchurch mosque but details are awaited and the casualty could be higher.
Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval. pic.twitter.com/VtkqSrljjV
— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) March 15, 2019
“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” police said in a statement which also added, “Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”
Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque…we r extremely lucky…never want to see this things happen again….pray for us
— Mushfiqur Rahim (@mushfiqur15) March 15, 2019
New Zealand digital media platforms are saying that there were multiple casualties and some have been evacuated.
According to Police commissioner, Mike Bush said all schools in the city had been placed in lock-down in response to “a serious ongoing firearms incident”.
“Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour,” he said in a statement.
An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with “blood everywhere”.
General witnesses have reported seeing bodies, but this has not been confirmed by police or officials. There are reports that a second mosque in the suburb of Linwood has also been evacuated. This is the first such incident of attack inside a mosque in the peaceful New Zeland.
Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack
— Tamim Iqbal Khan (@TamimOfficial28) March 15, 2019
The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) has activated its mass casualty plan, according to New Zealand news site Stuff.nz. This plan includes clearing emergency room space for casualties. This was done in anticipation of high casualties.
The local Police have also cleared Cathedral Square, where thousands of children were holding coincidentally a rally for action on climate change.