WELLINGTON (Reuters) – No less than one gunman killed 49 individuals and wounded greater than 20 throughout Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques within the nation’s worst ever mass capturing, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned as terrorism.
A gunman broadcast reside footage on Fb of the assault on one mosque within the metropolis of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage performed out in video video games, after publishing a “manifesto” through which he denounced immigrants, calling them “invaders”.
New Zealand was positioned on its highest safety menace degree, Ardern stated, including that 4 individuals taken into custody held extremist views however had not been on any police watchlists.
“It’s clear that this may now solely be described as a terrorist assault,” Ardern stated, name this “considered one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
Police stated later three individuals had been in custody and one man in his late 20s had been charged with homicide. He’ll seem in courtroom on Saturday.
The visiting Bangladesh cricket group was arriving for prayers at one of many mosques when the capturing began however all members had been protected, a group coach informed Reuters.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush stated 49 individuals had been killed in whole.
The video footage broadly circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted on-line reside because the assault unfolded, confirmed him driving to 1 mosque, getting into it and capturing randomly at individuals inside.
Worshippers, presumably useless or wounded, lay huddled on the ground, the video confirmed. Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the footage.
One man who stated he was on the Al Noor mosque informed media the gunman was white, blond and sporting a helmet and a bulletproof vest. The person burst into the mosque as worshippers had been kneeling for prayers.
“He had an enormous gun … he got here and began capturing everybody within the mosque, in every single place,” stated the person, Ahmad Al-Mahmoud. He stated he and others escaped by breaking by way of a glass door.
Forty-one individuals had been killed on the Al Noor mosque, seven at a mosque within the Linwood neighborhood and one died in hospital, police stated. Hospitals stated youngsters had been among the many victims.
Shortly earlier than the assault started, an nameless publish on the dialogue website 8chan, recognized for a variety of content material together with hate speech, stated the author was going to “perform an assault in opposition to the invaders” and included hyperlinks to a Fb reside stream, through which the capturing appeared, and a manifesto.
The manifesto cited “white genocide”, a time period sometimes utilized by racist teams to consult with immigration and the expansion of minority populations, as his motivation.
The Fb hyperlink directed customers to the web page of a person known as brenton.tarrant.9.
A Twitter account with the deal with @brentontarrant posted on Wednesday photos of a rifle and different navy gear embellished with names and messages related to white nationalism. What regarded like the identical weapons appeared within the livestream of the mosque assault on Friday.
It was not instantly clear if the assaults on the two mosques had been carried out by the identical man.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated one of many males in custody was Australian.
All mosques in New Zealand had been requested to close their doorways and armed guards posted at them, police stated, including they weren’t actively on the lookout for some other “recognized suspects”.
Political and Islamic leaders throughout Asia and the Center East condemned the killings.
“I blame these growing terror assaults on the present Islamophobia post-9/11,” Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, posted on social media. “1.three billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror.”
Al-Azhar College, Egypt’s 1000-year-old seat of Sunni Islamic studying, stated the assaults had “violated the sanctity of the homes of God”.
“We warn the assault is a harmful indicator of the dire penalties of escalating hate speech, xenophobia, and the unfold of Islamophobia.”
Six Indonesians had been inside one of many mosques, with three managing to flee and three unaccounted for, its overseas minister stated.
Afghanistan’s ambassador stated on Twitter three Afghans had been wounded. Two Malaysians had been wounded, their overseas ministry stated.
Muslims account for simply over 1 p.c of New Zealand’s inhabitants, a 2013 census confirmed.
‘FIRING WENT ON AND ON’
The web footage, which appeared to have been captured on a digital camera strapped to a gunman’s head, confirmed him driving as music performed in his automobile. After parking, he took two weapons and walked a brief distance to the mosque the place he opened fireplace.
Over the course of 5 minutes, he repeatedly shot worshippers, leaving greater than a dozen our bodies in a single room alone. He returned to the automotive throughout that interval to vary weapons, and went again to the mosque to shoot anybody displaying indicators of life.
One man, with blood nonetheless on his shirt, stated in a tv interview that he hid from a gunman beneath a bench and prayed that he would run out of bullets.
“I used to be simply praying to God and hoping our God, please, let this man cease” Mahmood Nazeer informed TVNZ.
“The firing went on and on. One individual with us had a bullet in her arm. When the firing stopped, I regarded over the fence, there was one man, altering his gun.”
The video reveals the gunman then driving off at excessive pace and firing from his automotive. One other video, taken by another person, confirmed police apprehending a gunman on a pavement by a highway.
Police stated improvised explosive gadgets had been discovered. The gunman’s video had proven purple petrol canisters behind his automotive, together with weapons.
The Bangladesh cricket group is in Christchurch to play New Zealand in a 3rd cricket take a look at beginning on Saturday.
“They had been on the bus, which was simply pulling as much as the mosque when the capturing begun,” Mario Villavarayen, a group coach, informed Reuters in a message. “They’re shaken however good.”
The third cricket take a look at was canceled, New Zealand Cricket stated later.
Violent crime is uncommon in New Zealand and police don’t often carry weapons.
Earlier than Friday, New Zealand’s worst mass capturing was in 1990 when a gun-mad loner killed 13 males, girls and kids in a 24-hour rampage within the tiny seaside village of Aramoana. He was killed by police.
Extra reporting by Tom Westbrook, John Mair and Swati Pandey in Sydney; Writing by Micheal Perry; Enhancing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie