#OPINION: Terror has no religion
It was a shocking, brutal assault, the kind New Zealanders had told themselves happened only in other countries. This was the end of innocence. read more here
NZ police: Death toll rises to 49
New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush said the death toll in the two mosque attacks has increased to 49.
The vast majority, 41 people, were killed in the attack on the Deans Avenue mosque shooting, Bush said.
According to the police, one man has already been charged with murder in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
- Virat Kohli sends thoughts to Bangladesh cricket team
- New Zealand suspends cricket match in wake of Christchurch terror attack
- Beginning at about 1.40 p.m. local time, armed gunmen attacked two mosques in Christchurch, killing dozens of people.
- Police quickly locked down the city in response, including schools and government buildings. Within hours, police said four people were taken into custody — three men and one woman.
- In a 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.
- According to Ardern, bombs were found attached to the attackers’ cars. They have since been disarmed by New Zealand’s armed forces.
- One of the attacks appears to have been live-streamed on social media. The graphic video has since been removed and police are requesting that people refrain from sharing it.
- Little is known about the attackers so far. At least one has been confirmed as an Australian citizen, while witnesses said one of the attackers was white and wearing a uniform. Ardern confirmed the attackers were not on security watch lists.
- The lockdown on Christchurch schools has now been lifted and children are back with their parents.
- Dozens dead in terrorist attack: 49 people have been killed, and at least 20 seriously injured, after shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
- Four people taken into custody: New Zealand police say they have arrested three men and one woman over the attacks. One man has already been charged with murder.
- Multiple mass shootings in New Zealand: Police say there are “multiple fatalities” after shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
- “One of New Zealand’s darkest days”: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has described the attack as an “unprecedented act of violence.”
- Muslims warned to not attend mosques: Police Commissioner Mike Bush said New Zealand’s Islamic community should stay away from places of worship “until you hear from us again.”
Witness saw young girl shot in the back
One witness, who did not want to be named, told CNN that he was driving by the mosque but pulled over to help when he saw people lying on the ground outside.
“I was driving by, I saw people lying in the ground so I pulled over and then once I got out of my truck I heard all the gunshots going off,” he said. “So I’m just trying to help them and one guy just looked like he was gone.”
He said he saw a man with a “with his 3 or 4-year-old daughter” who had been shot in the back.
“He was screaming like get her to the hospital and the ambulance couldn’t come in until it was secured so I just got my truck and loaded up him, and his daughter, and this other guy had been shot in the leg, and took them to the hospital,” he said.
NZ police: Explosive devices only found on one vehicle
New Zealand commissioner Mike Bush said two improvised explosive devices were found on one of the attackers’ vehicles.
This was slightly different to previous statements that multiple vehicles had been found with explosives attached.
Mosques to shut doors indefinitely
New Zealand police have warned all mosques countrywide to shut their doors due to a “very serious and tragic incident involving an active shooter.”
“One person is in custody, however, police believe there may be other offenders,” the police said on Twitter.
Police will be holding a press conference at 5 p.m. local time on Friday afternoon (12 p.m. ET).
Eyewitness describes shooting at mosque
Mohan Ibn Ibrahim told CNN he was inside the mosque when the shooting began and that he heard the gunman “continuously shooting for ten to 15 minutes.”
He said the shooting began at about 1:40 p.m. local time when he heard “gunfire sound coming from the back side.”
“There is a barricade in the middle so if somebody gets inside by using the main door they have to come inside and walk maybe one minute.”
“When I heard that there is a shooting — the sound whats coming. I thought maybe it was an electrical circuit or something. But then it continuously happened.”
Ibrahim said people began running out of the mosque and he “had to jump out of the wall” to escape.
“And we are still hearing the sound of the gun, continuously shooting for ten to 15 minutes,” he said.
“I came to the street I saw one person got shot on his chest,” he said, adding that the ambulance and police then arrived on the scene.
Ibrahim said he had heard reports from a friend that a gunman had opened fire at another mosque in the area.
“They told me that five people died over there in that mosque, and I have seen with my own eyes, three people dead on the street,” he said.
“I could not contact two of my friends who are in the mosque as well.”
“Thats what I saw. Lots of police and ambulance have come, and they did not allow us to go in the mosque or to get close to it,” he said.
A small Muslim population
Just 1% of New Zealand’s population of almost five million are Muslim, according to government statistics, less than 50,000 people in 2013.
“Muslims are the most rapidly growing religious group in New Zealand with the population increasing six-fold between 1991 and 2006,” according to Victoria University of Wellington research.
In comparison, New Zealand has a much higher population of Christians, including Catholics, Anglicans and Presbyterians, as well as Hindu and Buddhist citizens.
Schools remain in lockdown
Police have advised that schools in the city remain in lockdown and there is no timeframe for when that will be lifted. They have told parents not to go to the schools to collect their children, saying they are being looked after by the schools.