Forty-nine people have been killed in shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. They included 41 people killed at the Deans Avenue mosque and seven at Linwood mosque. Another victim died later in Christchurch hospital.
Christchurch hospital is treating 48 people, including young children, for gunshot wounds. In a statement he said injuries range from critical to minor.
A man in his late 20s has been charged with murder and will appear in Christchurch court tomorrow. The police have not named him.
“Darkest Day” – the front page of tomorrow’s NZ Herald: pic.twitter.com/HyGFoiroIU
— Bryce Edwards (@bryce_edwards) March 15, 2019
A 28-year-old Australian, who livestreamed himself attacking a mosque, identified himself online before the rampage as Brenton Tarrant. Tarrant posted multiple photos of what appear to be machine gun magazines and a link to what is being described as a manifesto for his actions. New Zealand Police urged people not to share “extremely distressing footage” related to the incident.
Tarrant outlines his motivations: including to “create an atmosphere of fear” and to “incite violence” against Muslims while offering up autobiographical details. He also cited actions of other rightwing extremists including the Finsbury Park mosque attacker Darren Osborne and Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Brevik.
Two others arrested at the scene with guns are being investigated. A fourth person arrested may have had nothing to do with the attack, according to New Zealand’s police commission Mike Bush.
Police have evacuated neighbours of a property in Dunedin linked to the attack. Dunedin, is about 350km (220 miles) south of Christchurch.
Several guns have been recovered from both mosques. Two explosive devices were found on two vehicles at the scene. One has been disabled.
The suspects were unknown to the police. Bush said the attack was “very well planned.” The police remain vigilant but are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attacks.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”. She also confirmed it was “terrorist attack”. Ardern added: “Many directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here…They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier confirmed one of the people arrested was an Australian citizen, and described the suspected attacker as an “extremist right-wing violent terrorist”.
Christchurch remains on lockdown. Christchurch’s mayor, Lianne Dalziel, said the city appeared to have been targeted to show nowhere in the world was safe.
The attack prompted condemnation from across the world. Pope Francis, the Queen, Donald Trump and Theresa May have all sent messages of support to New Zealand.
UK police are stepping up patrols around mosques following the attack. The Muslim Council of Britain called on fellow Muslims to “resist the temptation to roll up the banners in fear”.
Some media companies are facing criticism for broadcasting video of the attack. The authorities in New Zealand, Australia and the UK have urged media companies to take down the footage and not to share it.