Police in the New Zealand city of Christchurch said that there are multiple fatalities after shootings in two mosques in the city center on Friday.
A 28-year-old Australian white supremacist has opened fire at a mosque in New Zealand, shooting at children and reportedly killing at least 49 people.
Witnesses reported hearing 50 shots from his weapons including a semi-automatic shotgun and a rifle at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country’s South Island.
The gunman – who identified himself on Twitter as Brenton Tarrant from Grafton, New South Wales – live-streamed the mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque, which happened about 1.30pm (11.30am AEDT) as Friday prayers were underway.
The gunman opened fire ‘for ten to 15 minutes”
Four people are in custody, including three men and one woman. One of them was arrested while wearing a suicide vest.
The suspected gunman posted an 87-page manifesto to Twitter before the killings, foreshadowing a ‘terrorist attack’.
People were also reportedly shot at the nearby Linwood Masjid mosque. There was another shooting outside Christchurch Hospital and multiple bombs were attached to cars three near the mosque.
— Mango Man (MM) (@MJibranPk) March 15, 2019
Police have urged people near the area to stay indoors and report suspicious behavior, describing the incident as ‘critical’.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said that four people are in custody — three men and one woman — but police are unsure if there are any other suspects.
The shootings occurred at the Masjid al Noor mosque at Deans Avenue and Linwood Masjid in Linwood.
Multiple improved explosive devices were attached to vehicles as part of the attack, Bush told reporters. These had been “made safe by the defense force.”
On social media post just before the attack, an account that is believed to belong to one of the attackers posted a link to an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack. The manifesto was not signed.
Police were still treating the incident as ongoing and urged Christchurch residents to stay indoors and monitor the police website and social media.
The situation was also considered as to limited to Christchurch and Bush asked “anyone who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand today not to go. To close your doors until you hear from us again,” he said.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held a press conference into the shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, describing it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
What we know so far:
- Two gunmen opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, at 1.40pm local time on Friday
- Unconfirmed body count could be up to 27, including children – according to local reports.
- One of the gunmen live-streamed the deadly attack on Facebook using a GoPro in footage too distressing to show
- It was posted on a Facebook page belonging to Brenton Tarrant
- It is understood the killer is a pro-Trump Australian-Brit who published a chilling 94-page manifesto before the rampage
- Cops have arrested three men and a woman – with one found wearing a suicide vest
- The Bangladesh cricket team were at one of the mosques and escaped the shooting
- Cops defused improvised explosives found on nearby booby-trapped cars
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”
- New Zealand cops have warned “let’s not presume the danger has gone”
Facebook removes graphic video believed to show mosque shooting
A spokeswoman for Facebook New Zealand, Mia Garlick, said videos which appeared to show the Christchurch shootings have been taken down.
“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the Livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” the spokeswoman said.
SICKENING ATTACK SHARED ONLINE
The gunman entered the Al Noor Mosque on Friday during afternoon prayers and opened fire. The distressing video streamed on his Facebook shows the 28-year-old man firing more than 100 shots at those insides. 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 armor 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.
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.
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, calmly reloaded his gun, then shot them multiple times to make sure they were dead.
Tarrant then walked outside and appeared to fire on at least two targets, then returned to his car and swapped his shotgun for a scoped 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.
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 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.
‘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.’