AT least one terrorist opened fire at New Zealand mosques today murdering 49 people and injuring 48 others in a sickening attack.
The shooter executed Muslim worshippers in Christchurch during Friday prayers – and even live-streamed the slaughter on Facebook in a 17-minute video.
What we know so far:
- At least one gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, at 1.40pm local time on Friday
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has declared the attack a terrorist attack
- 49 people have been killed – 41 were killed at Masjid Al Noor Mosque, seven at Linwood Masjid Mosque and one died at hospital
- 48 people were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds and 20 are in critical condition
- One of the gunmen live-streamed the deadly attack on Facebook using a GoPro in footage too distressing to show
- It was posted on a Facebook page belonging to Brenton Tarrant
- It is understood the killer is an Australian with British parents published a chilling 74-page manifesto before the rampage
- Cops have arrested three men and a woman, with initial reports of one wearing a suicide vest proven incorrect
- A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and will appear in court tomorrow
- Two others remain in custody and it is not clear if the fourth person was involved in the attack
- Police are searching a property on Somerville Street, Dunedin in relation to today’s attack
- New Zealand and Australian authorities have confirmed the suspects were not on any watch lists
- The Bangladesh cricket team were at one of the mosques and escaped the shooting
- Cops defused improvised explosives found on nearby booby-trapped cars
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the mosque massacres a “terrorist attack” and said it was one of the country’s “darkest days”.
Three men and one woman are in custody following the shootings at Masjid Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Masjid Mosque in Christchurch at around 1.40pm local time.
Initial reports one of those arrested was wearing a suicide vest were incorrect, as cops warned “let’s not presume the danger has gone”.
New Zealand Police commissioner Mike Bush said a man in his late twenties has been charged with murder and will appear in court tomorrow.
He added police were still trying to establish if the other three were involved, though one likely had “nothing to do with this incident”.
Police also defused a number of improvised explosives which were found on nearby booby-trapped cars following the bloodbath.
Ardern confirmed 41 people were killed at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque and a further seven were killed at the Linwood Masjid Mosque. One person later died from their wounds at hospital.
As she raised the country’s security to the highest level, the PM said: “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.”
She said the four people in police custody held extremist views, but had not been on any police watchlists.
“It’s not a matter of someone having slipped under the radar,” the PM said.
One white-supremacist gunmen filmed the footage – too shocking to show in its entirety – on a GoPro camera and streamed it to a Facebook page.
He fired automatic weapons as people ran for their lives and executed people at point blank range – including one girl who lay on the floor screaming for help.
In the document he writes of taking revenge for the “thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks”.
He also wrote: “I have read the writings of Dylan Roof and many others, but only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik.”
The video was published on the Facebook account of a man named Brenton Tarrant – and this profile has since been removed.
The names of the gunmen have not yet been confirmed by police.
In twisted footage, the gunman says “let’s get this party started” as he drives up to a mosque playing loud music.
He also says “Remember lads, subscribe to pewdiepie”, referencing the controversial YouTuber.
The man is seen taking automatic weapons from his boot, daubed in bizarre references to historic Muslim wars.
He then enters and shoots down multiple people in the prayer room, as they run in panic.
The man shoots several people from the car park before stalking through the building, picking off people and shooting bodies on the floor.
The man then walks back outside and shoots a young girl on the pavement as she screams for someone to help.
The sicko drives off boasting about how he “should have stayed longer” and blaring music including “Fire” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
Following the shootings, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it is “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
In a press conference, Police Commissioner Mike Bush warned: “We’re not assuming this is contained to Christchurch.”
He revealed that police in the city and elsewhere will be carrying guns for the next week or so.
Mr Bush said “there have been some absolute acts of bravery” in the arrests of the four attackers as he confirmed a “significant” amount of casualties.
“This is absolutely tragic. So many people are affected. We don’t have the identities of those who have died yet because those places are in lockdown.”
He said he would not assume there are not other attackers.
Police today were searching a property in Dunedin, around five hours’ drive south of Christchurch, connected to the incident, and had evacuated people in neighbouring homes.
The lockdown of schools throughout Christchurch was lifted at 5.50pm.
But patrols have been stepped up around mosques in other cities including Los Angeles “out of caution”.
CRICKET TEAM CAUGHT UP IN CARNAGE
The Bangladesh cricket team among worshippers caught up in the carnage – although all escaped unharmed.
Team manager Khaled Mashud said: “This was a kind of accident that we would never expect nor want in any part of the world.
“Only two of the players had stayed back in the hotel, and rest of the squad had gone there.
“We were very close to the mosque, and we could see from the bus. We must have been about 50 yards from the mosque.
“I would say we were really lucky. Had we arrived even three or four minutes earlier, we probably would have been inside the mosque.
“We are very thankful that we weren’t caught in the crossfire, but what we saw was straight out of a movie scene. We could see bloodstained people staggering out of the mosque.
“Maybe in about eight-10 minutes, we were all inside the bus and were sitting with our heads bowed, just in case someone fired at us.”
Mohammed Nazir told TVNZ he saw three women bleeding on the ground outside at Masjid Al Noor Mosque.
Another witness told the station: “My husband was driving past he said he took three people to the hospital, one was a little girl all been shot.
“He wanted to take more he said there was like a dozen people just lying on the road.”
Small children are said to be among the dead, and bodies have been reported laying on the ground outside.
A massive police response is under way with the city locked down.
Canterbury Police tweeted: “We have a critical incident in Christchurch. Please avoid the area. We will give more in the near future.”
One schoolboy caught up in the middle of shootings has described the blood-curdling “screams” amid the carnage.
Idris Khairuddin revealed Friday prayers were just about to start when multiple gunshots shattered the peace.
He said: “At first I thought it was just like construction work or something, then people were all running and screaming.”
The Bangladesh cricket team was at the mosque for Friday prayer when the shooting started.
Tamim Iqbal tweeted: “Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.”
Mushfiqur Rahim said: “Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque…we r extremely lucky…never want to see this things happen again….pray for us”.
The upcoming third Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been called off following the mass shootings.
THE WORLD REACTS
Prime Minister Theresa May has led the UK condemnation of the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed 49 people.
In a tweet she sent “deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand after the horrifying terrorist attack in Christchurch”.
She added: “My thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence.”
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Our hearts go out to the people of New Zealand following the news of this terrible act in Christchurch.
“NZ is one of the most peaceful, peace-loving and generous nations in the world. Your friends in the UK stand with you today in deepest sympathy.”
The Queen said she is “deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today”, adding: “Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives.”
The UK’s counter-terrorism chief also said he was stepping up patrols around mosques in the UK and Brit officers were ready to support their counterparts in New Zealand.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said: “I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 (where) 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the attack was a deliberate demonising of Muslim political struggles.
He wrote on Twitter: “Not only the perpetrators, but also politicians & media that fuel the already escalated Islamophobia and hate in the West, are equally responsible for this heinous attack.”
In a statement, Al-Azhar University, Egypt’s 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islamic learning, said the attacks had “violated the sanctity of the houses of God”.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he’s shocked at the “terrible attacks”.
He wrote on Twitter: “We emphatically condemn violence and the lack of reason of fanatics and extremists who want to break our societies.”