Terror came to the streets of New Zealand’s capital, Christchurch, after armed gunmen shot dead worshipers as they attended Friday prayers at two mosques in the city.
It has been reported that the number of casualties so far is 49 with a further 20 people being treated in various hospitals across the capital. The attacker who named himself as Brenton Tarrant, 28, during his live feed of the incident and has since been arrested by police and will appear in court on Saturday morning according to New Zealand Police. The police also said that two other men had been arrested in connection with the attack and a woman was also being detained after they were all discovered nearby with firearms. Firearms were not the only items discovered, police found a number of explosive devices in a car thought to belong to one of the suspects.
Shockingly, one of the gunmen filmed the live stream via Facebook during the attack from a head mounted camera. In response Facebook have said that the gunman’s account on Facebook and Instagram has been removed and that they are actively working to remove any copies of the content.
New Zealand Police said: “Police are aware there is 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.”
The suspect also appears to have published a manifesto before the attack outlining his intentions, in which he identified himself as a 28-year-old Australian citizen and espoused far right and anti-immigrant ideology.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the man as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist. Police Commissioner Bush confirmed that the man was not known in advance to either New Zealand or Australian security services.
In a statement New South Wales Police said: “Following the devastating events in New Zealand, New South Wales (NSW) Police want to assure the public there is no ongoing or specific threat to any mosque or place of worship in Sydney or across New South Wales.
“However, police have increased patrols and senior officers have also reached out to community and religious leaders across the state to provide support and reassurance. NSW Police Force will continue to do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of all members of the community and everyone should continue to go about their business without fear.”
One survivor from the mosque told TV New Zealand he saw the gunman shoot a man directly in the chest. The attacker reportedly targeted the men’s prayer room in the mosque, then moved to the women’s room.
He said: “What I did was basically just wait and pray, God please, let this guy run out of bullets. He came to this side, he shot this side, he went to another room and went to the ladies’ section and shot them. I just heard one of the ladies has died.”
Speaking to Sky News Ramzan Ali, who was at the al Noor mosque, told the New Zealand Herald that the shooting stopped and restarted seven times as the shooter kept reloading ammunition.
He said: “I saw people running for all the doors. To get 300 people out of the doorways was not easy – out of two doorways, because he entered through the main door, and there were two more doors on the sides. He just started shooting – ‘bang, bang, bang’. My cousin was sitting beside me and he got hit in his leg.”
Soon after the attack New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern posted on twitter: “What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.”