Terrorist murders 49 worshippers inside mosques in New Zealand

Terrorist murders 49 worshippers inside mosques in New Zealand
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One of our darkest days, says NZ PM

WELLINGTON: Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 49 dead Friday, with one gunman – identified as an Australian extremist – apparently livestreaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city.
In what appeared to be the worst attack against Muslims in a western country, witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children believed to be among those killed.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying it marked “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
“From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned,” she said, adding that in addition to the dead, at least 20 people were seriously injured.
Witnesses spoke of seeing bloodied bodies and police warned of “extremely distressing footage” of the incident circulating on the internet.
Police earlier said four people – three men and a woman – had been taken into custody, and that they had found and neutralised a number of IEDs (improved explosive devices).
In a press briefing after the initial statement, police in the Pacific country confirmed one individual was charged in the attack.
A Palestinian man who was in one of the mosques said he saw someone being shot in the head.
“I heard three quick shots then after about 10 seconds it started again. It must have been an automatic — no one could pull a trigger that quick,” the man, who did not wish to be named, told AFP.
“Then people started running out. Some were covered in blood,” he said, adding that he joined the fleeing crowd and managed to escape the scene.
“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high,” police commissioner Mike Bush said.
New Zealand police said in a tweet that they were aware of “extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online.”
“We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.”
“It is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” said Prime Minister Ardern. “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
The Masjid al Noor in central Christchurch was filled with worshippers when the attack happened, as was the second mosque in suburban Linwood.
An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand that he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with “blood everywhere”.
Police said they had put the entire city on lockdown including schools, and told residents to stay off the streets.
They also warned Muslims all over the country not to visit mosques “anywhere in New Zealand”. Friday is Islam’s holy day.
Christchurch city council offered a helpline for parents looking for kids attending a mass climate change rally nearby.
“Please do not try and come and collect your children until police say it is safe for people to come into the central city,” they said.
New Zealand police investigating Friday’s mosque massacre in Christchurch have evacuated residents living near a property in the city of Dunedin that they believe is linked to the attacks, officials said.
Police said the property, located some 350 kilometres (220 miles) from Christchurch, was “of interest” in relation to the mosque attacks.
“Evacuations of properties in the immediate area have taken place as a precaution,” police said in a statement. They did not provide further details.
The gunman was arrested by police, who also took two other men into custody. It was not immediately known what their link may have been to Dunedin, about a four-and-a-half hour drive south of Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island.

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