49 killed in mass shooting at New Zealand mosques

Christchurch

Police escort witnesses away from a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand

Friday, March 15, 2019

A total of 49 people have been killed in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers.

Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant from Australia has been charged with murder following the attacks in the Christchurch area, with three others - two men and a woman - detained by authorities.

Authorities also defused two improvised explosive devices found inside a car.

The alleged shooter livestreamed the attacks

Lead suspect Tarrant reportedly live-streamed the attacks online, with the deadliest occurring at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1.45pm, where at least 30 were killed.

The second shooting took place at the Linwood Masjid Mosque in which at least 10 people were killed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it "one of New Zealand's darkest days".

 

'Act of violence'

Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand

She said the incident represented "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" and acknowledged that many of those affected may be migrants and refugees.

In addition to the dead, she said dozens of other people were seriously wounded.

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," said Ms Ardern.

People outside a mosque in Christchurch

While there was no reason to believe there were more suspects, Ms Ardern said the national security threat level was being raised to the second-highest level.

An international cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been cancelled after players from the visiting team narrowly avoided being caught up in the mass shooting, fleeing the mosque.