At least 49 people were killed in a terror attack after gunmen opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called the shooting an "unprecendented attack of violence."
Christchurch Police Commissioner Mike Bush said 41 people were killed at the Al Noor Mosque near Hagley Park, while seven were shot dead at the Linwood Avenue Mosque. One person died at the hospital, The New Zealand Herald reported. Four people have been arrested -- three men and one woman -- according to reports, and police have recovered firearms from both the Linwood Avenue and Al Noor Mosque shooting scenes. One man in his late 20s has been charged with murders. Authorities added that none of them were on any terrorism watch, including in Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that one of the killers was Australian.
Ardern descrived the killings as "one of New Zealand's darkest days."
One gunman reportedly livestreamed the shooting at Al Noor Mosque in a 17-minute video and wrote a manifesto declaring his intentions, Commissioner Bush told the media. BBC quoted witnesses saying that they ran for their lives and saw people bleeding on the ground outside the Al Noor mosque.
The gunman targeted the men's prayer room in the mosque and then moved to the women's room.
â€śMany of those affected may be migrants to New Zealand. They may even be refugees here,â€ť Prime Minister Ardern reportedly said. â€śThey are one of us. The person who has perpetrated these acts is not.â€ť
Ardern went on to say that, "These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world."
The prime minister noted that it appeared the attacks appeared to have been well planned. The police said there were also multiple improvised explosive devices attached to vehicles as part of the attack.
The Bangladesh cricket team was in Christchurch for a test match when the attack took place. Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said most of the team had gone to a mosque near Hagley Park by bus and were about to go inside when the incident took place. The New Zealand-Bangladesh third Test match set to be played in Christchurch was cancelled.
The government advised people not to go to mosques until further notice. All Christchurch schools have been shut.
(With IANS Inputs)