Armed police maintain a presence outside the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Manurewa in Auckland, New Zealand. Citizens have been urged to not attend evening prayers today following the terrorist attacks that killed 40 in two mosques in Christchurch.
The attackers, at least one of whom has been identified as Australian, struck against two mosques in Christchurch, a city of 375,000 on New Zealand’s less populated South Island. Ten people were killed in the attack on the Linwood Avenue mosque and 30 were killed at the Deans Avenue mosque.
Here is what we know:
- Forty people have been killed in Christchurch, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in what she describes as a "terrorist attack"
- Forty-eight patients, including children, are being treated in Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds ranging from minor to critical
- New Zealand's national security threat level has been lifted from low to high
- Four people have been arrested, including one woman, after a series of simultaneous attacks across Christchurch
- One of the shooters has been confirmed as an Australian citizen by Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison
- The four individuals in custody were not on any watchlist
- A mosque on Deans Ave and another on Linwood Ave have been confirmed as shooting sites. These sites remain locked down
- Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were found attached to vehicles but they have since bee[n] disabled
- Police said the public should not assume the incident is contained to Christchurch and people in other centres should be on alert
Other sources have given various counts for the number injured, the least being 20.
Anna Coren of CNN reported that a few possibly wounded people lay still on the ground with the apparent hope the killers would forget about them, but, after getting more ammunition from a car, one killer shot each of them to death at point blank range. One of the killers used a body cam to live stream the shootings. Social media sites have been removing the video.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said:
"One has publicly stated that they were Australian-born. These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that absolutely no place in New Zealand and no place in the world."
Ardern said she could not rule out that there could be more suspects. New Zealand's national security threat level has been lifted from low to high.
Shortly after the slaughter, in a pitch-perfect response, Ardern said:
Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home.
They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.
For now, my thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families.