At least two gunmen opened fire at two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch city on Friday, with the police saying that there were "multiple fatalities". The shootings took place at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Masjid, The New Zealand Herald reported.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed "multiple fatalities", adding that there was one person in custody "but we are unsure if there are other people".
"Again we are unsure if there are any other locations outside of that area. We have mobilised every police resource in the Canterbury location to respond to this and we are also in the process of mobilising every national police resource to keep people safe," Bush told the media here.
One gunman believed to be Australian, filmed as he shot victims in the mosque - and wrote a manifesto declaring his intentions, saying that "it is a terrorist attack", according to Bush.
Addressing a media conference in New Plymouth, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the events in Christchurch as "one of New Zealand's darkest days". Ardern described the event as "extreme and unprecedented violence".
New Zealand PM: “Many of those who will have been directly affected by the 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.”https://t.co/roABvN4H5c pic.twitter.com/Wm6E1Zckh9— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 15, 2019
There were also reports of a third active shooting unfolding outside Christchurch Hospital and a car bomb in Strickland St, but these two incidents were yet to be verified.
Authorities advised people not to go to mosques until further notice. All Christchurch schools are on lockdown.
"Due to the ongoing serious firearms incident in Central Christchurch Police would like to remind all parents and caregivers that schools across the city remain in lock down. There is no timeframe at this stage for when the lock down will be lifted. The children are being taken care of by schools. On advice from Police, schools will communicate directly with parents when the lock down is lifted," the New Zealand police said in a statement.
The Indian Embassy in New Zealand has put out helpline numbers for any Indians in distress.
We are shocked to hear about the shooting in #Christchurch Any Indians needing assistance should contact us at 021803899 or 021850033. @indianweekender @indiannewslink @MEAIndia @IndianDiplomacy @WIAWellington @kohli_sanjiv @BhavDhillonnz— India in New Zealand (@IndiainNZ) March 15, 2019
Apart from numerous witness reports of casualties, a reporter following the Bangladesh cricket team, who are currently in New Zealand, tweeted that the team had "escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters".
Player Tamim Iqbal tweeted that the "entire team got saved from active shooters".
Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack— Tamim Iqbal Khan (@TamimOfficial28) March 15, 2019
Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said most of the team had gone to the mosque by bus and were about to go inside when the incident took place.
All members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team in Christchurch, are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city.— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 15, 2019
The Bangladesh Cricket Board is in constant contact with the players and team management.#ChristchurchMosqueAttack pic.twitter.com/TTpIFxLp05
Yunus confirmed that all the players were safe. The test match between Bangladesh and New Zealand which was scheduled to start from Saturday has been cancelled.
(With IANS inputs)