“It is clear this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Ardern told reporters on Friday. “What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. It has no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are.”
Police said they have made one arrest but are unsure whether there are other armed offenders still on the loose in Christchurch, where schools have been put in lockdown and residents told to stay off the streets. Armed police were deployed after shots were fired at a mosque around 1:40 p.m. local time. There are multiple fatalities, police said.
“This is an evolving incident and we are working to confirm the facts, however we can confirm there have been a number of fatalities,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement. “We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.”
Some unconfirmed media reports suggested the attacks were coordinated. The New Zealand Herald said a gunman at one mosque recorded his actions and posted the video to YouTube.
Radio New Zealand said an eyewitness saw a man wearing a helmet and glasses and a military style jacket open fire inside one of the mosques. One person saw four people lying on the ground and said “there was blood everywhere,” RNZ reported.
Members of the touring Bangladesh cricket team were reportedly among those fleeing one of the mosques after their bus drove past the scene and was stopped by police. The test match they were scheduled to play against New Zealand tomorrow has been called off. DM
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