At least 49 people were killed and several others injured after a gunman opened fire on worshipers at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday.
The number of dead was confirmed by New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern who termed the shooting as a “terrorist attack”.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush had earlier said that four suspects were taken into custody comprising one woman and three men. He further informed that the police have defused a number of improvised explosive devices found on vehicles after the Mosque shootings.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that one of the shooters who was taken into custody was an “Australian-born citizen”.
He said Australian authorities are now involved in investigations as a result of this.
“[One shooter] is an Australian born citizen. That obviously leads to an Australia-based investigation,” he said.
Of the confirmed 40 people killed, 30 were killed at Al Noor mosque and 10 killed at Linwood mosque. The 10 figure includes three people who were outside Linwood Avenue mosque at the time of shooting, reports said.
New Zealand prime minister said none of the suspects were on security or terrorism watchlists.
The Masjid al Noor was filled with worshipers, including members of the Bangladesh cricket team.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. It was an unprecedented act of violence,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement following the shooting.
One witness told stuff.co.nz he was praying in the Deans Ave mosque when he heard shooting and saw his wife lying dead on the footpath outside when he fled.
Another man said he saw children being shot.
An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with “blood everywhere”.
Unconfirmed reports said the shooter was wearing military-style clothing.
Mike Bush said all schools in the city had been placed in lockdown in response to “a serious ongoing firearms incident”. Central city buildings, including the Civic Offices and Central Library, were also locked down.
Bangladesh’s cricket team escaped unscathed. Spokesman Jalal Yunus said most of the team were bussed to the mosque and were about to go inside when the incident happened.
“They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel,” he told AFP.