News & Views

Death toll rises to 49 in terrorist attack at New Zealand mosques

At least 49 worshippers have been killed in a terrorist attack at two mosques in a New Zealand city on Friday.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush informed that another 50 were injured in the mass shootings in Christchurch.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described one alleged gunman, who had Australian citizenship, as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist.

“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ms Morrison said, adding that it marked “one of New Zealand´s darkest days”.

“From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned,” she said.

A man in his late twenties was charged with murder and will appear in court on Saturday morning, police confirmed.

Two other men and one woman were detained nearby and firearms seized, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.

He said police had determined that one of the people detained was not involved in the incident, and officers were working to understand if the other two were connected.

The shooting was the deadliest in the country’s history.

Police also recovered suspected IEDs found attached to the attackers´ vehicles which were made safe by the military.

According to the former president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Mohammed Jama, the terrorist attack took place around 01:40 pm local time on Friday, when a gunman entered a mosque in Christchurch and opened fire, he said adding that around 300 people were inside the building praying.

The police have advised the local residents to stay indoors, while local schools, main highways and public buildings have reportedly been placed on lockdown.

One gunman live-streamed footage of his rampage to Facebook, filmed with a head-mounted camera. The footage showed him firing indiscriminately at men, women and children from close range inside the Al-Noor mosque.

Police called on the public not to share the “extremely distressing” footage online. Facebook said it had removed the gunman’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage.

New Zealand’s charitable healthcare organization St John said 20 of its ambulance cars and operational vehicles had been working on the scene of a firearms incident.

“We have approximately 20 emergency ambulances and operational vehicles at the scene providing support and will continue to update you as information comes to hand,” the charity said in a statement.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s police urged mosques across the country to shut their doors and warned the public to stay indoors in the wake of the terror incidents at two mosques in the city.

“We are still working to resolve this incident and we continue to urge Christchurch 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,” the police wrote on Twitter.

The Bangladesh cricket team is in Christchurch to play New Zealand in a third cricket test starting on Saturday. The Bangladesh cricket team was arriving for prayers and escaped the terror attack luckily.

Bangladeshi cricketer Tamim Iqbal Khan said on Twitter: “Entire team got saved from active shooters!!!”

Many Muslims are of the view that negative media portrayal of the faith and misconceptions about Islam and support to racism created by the media led to such attacks.

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