New Zealand March 15: The death toll in terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch has mounted to 49 with more seriously injured victims succumbing.
Earlier, gunman opened fire on worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand that left 40 people killed while many others succumbed to injuries.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden while condemning the terrorist attack internationally said it was the country’s worst ever mass shooting.
Jacinda said, “This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days, clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
Describing it as terrorist attack she further said, “There is no place in New Zealand for such extreme acts.”
Most of the victims are said to have been killed at the Al Noor mosque, the main mosque in the city on New Zealand’s South Island, with several more people killed at a mosque in the suburb of Linwood.
New Zealand health Authorities said, almost 48 people including children, are being treated at Christchurch hospital ,wounds range from minor to critical.
Meanwhile, Four people ,three men and one woman have been taken into custody, police say, but they are not sure if others are involved. The prime minister said they were not on a terror watch-list.
Police say a man in his late twenties has been charged with murder. They have added that they are not looking for further suspects.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that one of the suspects was Australian-born.
He described the massacre as a “vicious, murderous attack” on people of faith, carried out by “an extremist, right-wing violent terrorist”.
Eyewitnesses said a white man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit while carrying an automatic rifle started shooting worshippers during Friday prayers at random in the Al Noor mosque. Some have described horrific scenes, with the shooting carrying on for several minutes and people being shot outside as well as inside the mosque.
“I did not see who was shooting but I saw that some people were running out through my room where I was in and also I saw some people had blood on their body and some people were limping. At that moment I realised it was really serious,” said one survivor, Mohamed Nazir.
There was a lucky escape for the Bangladesh cricket team. It was arriving for prayers at the Al Noor mosque when the shooting happened, one of the team’s coaches told Reuters, adding that all members were safe. “They are shaken but good,” Mario Villavarayen said.
A test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh due to start on Saturday in Christchurch has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings.
Police said earlier they were hunting “an active shooter” in the centre of Christchurch city.
“The risk environment remains extremely high,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Bush said, adding that police were responding with full capacity.
A protest over climate change had been taking place earlier in the city, attended by thousands of people including school children. Schools in the city were put on lockdown but this has since been lifted.
Mosques in New Zealand have been asked to close their doors as a precaution. Police said there was no hard evidence of a threat to mosques elsewhere in the country, but the commissioner added that it was not possible to assume the attack was isolated to Christchurch.
Video film purporting to show the shootings was streamed live online has been circulating on social media. Police have not confirmed its veracity; the authorities say they are trying to take the film offline are advising people not to share it.
“I’m absolutely aware, I have seen social media footage. It’s very disturbing, it shouldn’t be in the public domain and we’re doing everything we can to remove it,” said Police Commissioner Mike Bush.
A spokeswoman for Facebook New Zealand said videos which appeared to show the Christchurch shootings had been taken down.
An online manifesto, published shortly before the video was streamed, was linked to from three social media accounts belonging to Brenton Tarrant.
The writer of the manifesto says he is 28 and Australian. The document, stretching to more than 16,000 words, rails against immigration and cites a list of events from various periods of history which the writer links to his self-acknowledged terrorist attack.
A 2013 census showed that Muslims account for just over one percent of New Zealand’s population.
Pertinently, there has been strong condemnation internationally, including from the leaders of many Muslim-majority countries.
Indonesia’s foreign minister condemned the act carried out “especially at a place of worship”. Reports have suggested several Indonesians were inside at least one of the mosques.
The leader of the biggest party in Malaysia’s coalition government described it as a “black tragedy facing humanity and universal peace”. A Malaysian was among those wounded and was being treated in hospital, the country’s High Commission said.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemned the attack on social media while Afghanistan’s ambassador to the region said three Afghans had been wounded in the attacks.
A spokesman for Turkey’s President Erdogan described it as a “racist and fascist” attack.
British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted on behalf of the UK her “deepest condolences” after a “sickening act of violence”.
European Council President described it as a “brutal attack” that would never diminish New Zealand’s “tolerance and decency”.