UPDATE at 5:15 PM | AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned the deadly terrorist attack in Christchurch, referring to it as a “vicious, murderous attack” on people of faith.
More than 40 people were shot dead at the Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch and the Linwood Mosque in the city’s outer suburbs on Friday afternoon. Four people have been arrested over the atrocity.
Prime Minister Morrison has confirmed an investigation is underway after it was revealed the man believed to be behind the attack was an Australian-born citizen.
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“We are outraged and we stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing violent terrorist who has taken the lives, stolen lives, in a vicious, murderous attack that has claimed so many New Zealanders,” Mr Morrison said.
Brenton Tarrant, 28, originally from Grafton in northern NSW, posted a manifesto to social media, outlining why he carried out the attack.
“These people don’t deserve names,” Mr Morrison later said.
“Names imply some sort of humanity and I struggle to see how anyone who would engage in this sort of hate and violence is human. He doesn’t deserve a name.”
Mr Morrison said the attack was “the work of hate”.
“I’ve got no other way to describe it,” he said.
“That sort of hateful thinking has just reaped murder and misery on a peaceful peope just going about their practice of faith on a Friday. It’s disgusting.”
“This attack reminds us of the evil that is ever-present and would seek to strike out at any time and I particularly want to convey my heartfelt sympathies not only to all New Zealand people, but particularly my sincere prayers and thoughts for those New Zealanders and indeed Australians of Islamic faith who have been the subject of this callous right-wing extremist attack,” he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called the attack a “senseless, evil act of murder”.
“It is chilling in its callous preparation, it is horrifying in the scale of death and injury,” he said.
“This was an attack on a mosque. It could have been a church. It could have been a synagogue. This is an attack on worshippers practising their faith innocently. And attack on any religion is an affront on all religions. It is an affront on our common humanity.
“I particularly feel for the Islamic Australian community who must be feeling very, very concerned and upset and also for all the parents who have to try to explain this to their children tonight.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs is working with New Zealand authorities to determine whether any Australians have been killed in the attack.
UPDATE at 4:50 PM | NEW Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed at least 40 people were killed and more than 50 others injured in today’s twin shootings in Christchurch.
Ten of the victims died at the Linwood Avenue mosque, while a further 30 were killed at the mosque on Deans Avenue.
Prime Minister Ardern said of those who survived the “well planned terrorist attack”, more than 20 of them were seriously injured.
Of the injured, 12 people are currently undergoing surgery while another 48 are being treated in hospitals across the region.
“What I can say is that it is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Ardern said.
New Zealand’s National Security threat level has been lifted from ‘low’ to ‘high’ following the attack.
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) March 15, 2019
Three men and a woman have been arrested and are in custody, being questioned by police.
Australian-born Brenton Tarrant is among them. He allegedly carried out the attack and released a lengthy 74-page “manifesto” outlining his reasons why.
The 28-year-old described himself as “just an ordinary white man” who was “born in Australia to a working class, low income family”.
His manifesto, titled “The Great Replacement”, claims the attack was to avenge “thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders”.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the attackers were apprehended by local police.
“It doesn’t get any more serious,” he said.
UPDATE at 2:30 PM | FOUR people have been arrested following two separate mass shootings in Christchurch.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mick Bush provided an update at 2:30 AEST, confirming four people – believed to be three men and a woman – were in custody following “a very serious and tragic series of events”.
Dozens of people were shot, many killed, when a gunman, believed to be a 28-year-old man from Australia, stormed a mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch and opened fire about 1.40pm on Friday.
A second shooting occurred at another mosque on Linwood Avenue shortly after.
The Commissioner also confirmed a number of explosive devices had been found attached to cars which have since been made safe by the defence force.
It is still not clear how many people were injured or killed in the attack.
“It doesn’t get any more serious than this in this country,” Commissioner Bush said.
“We have multiple fatalities. At this point, I can’t say how many. But, it is significant.”
JUST IN: New Zealand police say four people are in custody after shootings occurred at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, and there are a "significant" number of fatalities. Live updates: https://t.co/qfZjJQx3MN pic.twitter.com/NonLkwjf1x
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 15, 2019
UPDATE at 2:20 PM | A GUNMAN who shot dead multiple people in Christchurch is believed to be from Australia.
The 28-year-old reportedly penned a 74-page manifesto declaring his intentions, according to the New Zealand Herald.
The lengthy document is said to contain “white supremacist” propaganda. In it, the gunman says he planned today’s attack for two years and picked his targets three months ago.
The man describes himself in the manifesto as “just a regular white man” who was born “to a working class, low-income family … who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people”.
The gunman said he carried out the attack to “directly reduce immigration rates to European lands” and “to incite violence, retaliation and further divide between the European people and the invaders”.
He said the attack was an act of “revenge on the invaders for the thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks throughout European lands.”
“As long as a white man still lives, they (the invaders) will NEVER conquer our lands and they will never replace our people,” he said.
“We must ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children”.
The 28-year-old said New Zealand was not the “original choice for attack”, but described it as “target rich of an environment as anywhere else in the West”.
“An attack in New Zealand would bring to attention the truth of the assault on our civilisation, that no where (sic) in the world was safe, the invaders were in all of our lands, even in the remotest areas of the world and that there was no where (sic) left to go that was safe and free from mass immigration.”
He also wrote of how he supported US President Donald Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
In a separate chilling post on social media last night, the man announced he would carry out the attack.
“I will carry out and attack against the invaders, and will even live stream the attack via facebook,” he wrote.
“If I don’t survive the attack, goodbye, godbless and I will see you all in Valhalla!”
The gunman live-streamed the bloodshed, with horrific head-cam footage showing the man listening to music as he drove up to a mosque before getting out of his car, walking inside and gunning down countless people in the prayer room.
The footage, viewed by myGC and verified by Storyful, shows bodies dropping and others running for their lives as the man fired into multiple rooms with a semiautomatic rifle.
The man is then seen in the vision calmly walking back to his car and driving off.
Earlier, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mick Bush confirmed one man had been arrested but said there could be more offenders.
UPDATE at 1:30 PM | NEW Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has addressed her nation, calling today’s attack in Christchurch an “unprecedented act of violence”.
Dozens of people were shot, many killed, when a gunman stormed a mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch and opened fire about 1.40pm on Friday. A second shooting occurred at a mosque on Linwood Avenue shortly after.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” the Prime Minister said. “I would describe it as an unprecedented act of violence, an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are.”
“There is no place in New Zealand for such extreme acts of unprecedented violence. The people who were the subject of this attack today, New Zealand is their home. They should be safe here.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her scheduled engagements for the rest of the day.
Earlier, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed one person had been arrested but said there could be more offenders.
It is not yet known exactly how many people have been injured or killed in the attack.
There are reports the Bangladesh cricket team was at the mosque at the time but managed to escape through a side door.
In a post on Twitter, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said news of the attack had left him “horrified”.
“I’m horrified by the reports I’m following of the serious shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand,” he said.
“The situation is still unfolding but our thoughts and prayers are with our Kiwi cousins.”
Any Australian citizens who require consular assistance, or families concerned about the welfare of citizens are being told to contact +6444736411 or +61262613305.
— Nine News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) March 15, 2019
I'm horrified by the reports I’m following of the serious shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. The situation is still unfolding but our thoughts and prayers are with our Kiwi cousins.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 15, 2019
UPDATE at 1:10 PM | POLICE have confirmed “multiple” people have been shot dead at two separate locations in Christchurch.
Speaking moments ago, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed one person had been arrested.
“We’re dealing with a very serious and tragic series of events,” Commissioner Bush said. “They involve an active shooter and multiple fatalities. We have one person in custody but we are unsure if there are other people.”
“The multiple fatalities are, as far as we know, at two locations – a mosque at Deans Ave and another mosque on Linwood Ave.
“Again, we are unsure if there are any other locations outside of that area that are under threat.”
Commissioner Bush said every police resource in the Canterbury region had been mobilised.
“We are also in the process of mobilising every national police resource to keep people safe,” he said.
MORE TO COME.
UPDATE at 1:00 PM | ARMED police have taken over the streets of Christchurch following two separate mass shootings in the city centre.
Dozens of people were shot, many of them killed, when a gunman walked into a packed mosque on Deans Ave near Hagley Park and opened fire with an automatic weapon about 1.40pm local time.
The gunman, who was wearing a ‘helmet, glasses and military-style jacket’, is believed to have live streamed the attack to social media.
As many as 300 people, possibly more, are believed to have been inside the mosque at the time.
A second shooting has also occurred at another mosque in the suburb of Linwood, while a suspicious device, thought to be a bomb, has reportedly been found in a car on Strickland Avenue.
New Zealand Police have confirmed there is an “active shooter” and say the situation is “ongoing”.
“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” NZ Police said in a statement.
“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”
People in the area are being warned to stay off the streets and remain indoors “until further notice”. All schools in Christchurch have also been locked-down.
UPDATE at 12:00 PM | A GUNMAN has opened fire in a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Witnesses claim to have heard up to 20 gunshots ring out around Deans Avenue, in the centre of the city.
Canterbury Police have confirmed they are responding to a ‘critical incident’ at the location.
There are reports of multiple casualties after a man opened fire inside a packed mosque.
An eyewitness told radionz.co.nz the gunman had an automatic weapon and was wearing ‘a helmet and glasses and a military style jacket’.
Another witness told stuff.co.nz that he had seen at least four people lying on the ground with “blood everywhere”.
As many as 300 people are thought to have been inside the building for afternoon prayers at the time.
New Zealand Police say the incident is “ongoing”.
“Police are currently responding to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch at around 1.40pm … armed police have been deployed,” New Zealand Police said in a statement.
“In response to a serious ongoing firearms incident in Christchurch, all Christchurch schools have been placed into lockdown.
“Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.”
A fleet of emergency service vehicles have swarmed the area.
No further information was available at the time of writing.
Mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. Reports two mosques were targeted. Police have asked the public to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour to authorities. #7News pic.twitter.com/4RqLPbYhUZ
— 7 News Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) March 15, 2019
Police are currently responding to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch at around 1:40pm.Armed police have been deployed.Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.
— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 15, 2019
In response to a serious ongoing firearms incident in Christchurch all Christchurch schools have been placed into lockdown. Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.
— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 15, 2019
This is a breaking news story. More information will be added as soon as it becomes available.