At least 49 people were killed after a shooter opened fire on Friday in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the death toll had reached 40 at a press conference. The revised death toll was issued later in the day by the police.
She said that 10 people were killed at the Linwood mosque and 30 at the Deans Ave mosque. A further 20 people have been seriously injured.
Ardern described the incident as a terrorist attack. The police say one man has been charged with murder for the attacks.
Parts of Christchurch are on lockdown and armed police were deployed after receiving reports of shots fired in the city center at 1:40pm Friday local time, according to CNN. According to New Zealand news site TVNZ, the incident took place at a mosque on Deans Ave, near Hagley Park. The police confirmed that there was another shooting at a different mosque in the area.
Eyewitnesses have reported running for their lives to escape a shooter. Unverified footage purportedly taken by the shooter has emerged, suggesting he filmed as he shot victims and streamed it on Facebook.
Mohan Ibrahim, who was in the area of the mosque, told the New Zealand Herald: “At first we thought it was an electric shock but then all these people started running.
“I still have friends inside. I have been calling my friends but there are many I haven’t heard from. I am scared for my friends lives.”
The Bangladesh Cricket team, who were visiting the city, escaped the attack. Their bus was just pulling up at the mosque when shooting happened.
Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack
— Tamim Iqbal Khan (@TamimOfficial28) March 15, 2019
Prime Minister Ardern called it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
Ardern says the incident is still “potentially unfolding” and warned people to stay safe while offering her condolences to victims and those effected by the tragedy. “This violence has absolutely no place in New Zealand this is not who we are. This has occurred in a place where people should be safe and they weren’t.”
1 NEWS reported that more than 30 people have been brought into the emergency department at Christchurch Hospital.
The PM says may be ‘other offenders’ in Christchurch shootings, reported AFP. The police have warned worshippers not to visit mosques ‘anywhere in New Zealand’.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter to condemn the attack. He blamed the incident on rising Islamophobia.
Shocked and strongly condemn the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack on mosques. This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2019
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam and 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim. This has been done deliberately to also demonize legitimate Muslim political struggles,” he said.
White House condemns the shootings
The White House condemned the mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch. “The United States strongly condemns the attack in Christchurch. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Friday morning.