There are multiple fatalities after shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, police in New Zealand have confirmed.
Police commissioner Mike Bush confirmed that one person is in custody, but said it was unclear if others were involved. Witnesses told local media they ran for their lives, and saw people bleeding on the ground outside the Al Noor mosque. Authorities advised all mosques to shut down until further notice. All Christchurch schools are on lockdown.
In a statement to the nation, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said details were not yet clear, “but I can tell you now – this will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
Mohan Ibrahim, who was in the area of the Al Noor mosque, told the New Zealand Herald: At first we thought it was an electric shock but then all these people started running.
It is not yet known how many shooters there were, but the Herald reports that one gunman is believed to be an Australian who has written a manifesto outlining his intentions. In it, he espouses far-right ideology and anti-immigrant ideology.
The sequence of events remains unclear and has mostly come via eyewitness reports to local media. Witnesses at the Al Noor mosque, located in central Christchurch along Deans Avenue, facing Hagley Park, reported seeing people bleeding on the ground outside the building, but such details have not been confirmed by police or officials.
One unnamed survivor told TV New Zealand he saw a gunman shoot a man directly in the chest. He estimated that the shooting lasted for 20 minutes and that up to 60 people may have been injured. The gunman reportedly targeted the men’s prayer room in the mosque, then moved to the women’s room.
A second mosque in the suburb of Linwood has also been evacuated, and the police commissioner said “multiple fatalities” were recorded at two locations. There are far fewer details emerging from there, however.
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