Police in New Zealand say that shootings inside mosques in the city of Christchurch on Friday have left many dead. Four people have been arrested in connection with the attack, but police are not sure if there were more than one person involved in the shootings.
Confirming the arrest of one person, Police commissioner Mike Bush said that it was unclear if others were involved. Local media quoted several witnesses, who said that how they saw many people bleeding on the ground outside the Al Noor mosque.
There are also reports that the mosque shooting may have been streamed live on social media while it was taking place. Police told CNN they were ‘aware’ of the video but were unable to confirm or deny its veracity. In the disturbing video, a gunman is seen walking into the mosque and opening fire.
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
Bush said, “Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high. Police recommend that residents across Christchurch remain off the streets and indoors until further notice. Christchurch schools will be locked down until further notice.
“Police thanks the public for their cooperation and will provide further updates to keep residents informed.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement to the nationthat although details were not clear she said that ‘this will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days.’ Meanwhile, the government has asked all mosques to shut down until further notice. All Christchurch schools are on lockdown.
4/5 …residents to stay inside. We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.
— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 15, 2019
Witnesses at the Al Noor mosque, located in central Christchurch along Deans Avenue, facing Hagley Park, said that they saw people bleeding on the ground outside the building.
One unnamed survivor told TV New Zealand he saw a gunman shoot a man directly in the chest. He, according to BBC, estimated that the shooting lasted for 20 minutes and that up to 60 people may have been injured.
The gunman reportedly targeted the men’s prayer room in the mosque, then moved to the women’s room. “What I did was basically just waiting and praying, God please, let this guy run out of bullets,” the witness said. Another witness said that he saw a man being shot in his head.
Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said that most players of the team had gone to mosque by bus and were about to go inside for the prayers when the shootings began. News agency AFP quoted Yunus as saying, “They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel.
The Bangladesh team is currently in New Zealand for a cricket series. The Test match between Bangladesh and New Zealand at Hagley Oval scheduled to begin tomorrow has been cancelled.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was “horrified” by the attack on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, adding he was following the developments. “The situation is still unfolding but our thoughts and prayers are with our Kiwi cousins,” Morrison said on his official Twitter.