What We Know So Far About the New Zealand Mosque Shootings

The Time - Mar 15, 08:03 GMT

Mass shootings at two mosques killed at least 49 people

At least 49 people have been killed in mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday.

The attacks occurred while worshippers attended Friday prayers. The main attack happened at Masjid Al Noor in central Christchurch, the largest city on the country’s southern island, where about 30 people died, according to the Associated Press. A second shooting took place Linwood Masjid Mosque, in an eastern suburb of Christchurch.

It is reported that a number of explosive devices attached to vehicles were defused after the attack.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the incident a “terrorist attack.”

“There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence,” she said at a press conference in Christchurch.

Here’s what we know so far about the events unfolding in New Zealand.

What we know about the suspects

Four people have been taken into custody. New Zealand Police confirmed on Twitter that three men and one women have been detained.

The suspects have not yet been named. Arden confirmed the attackers were not on any security watch lists.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that one of the suspects is an Australian citizen, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Reports say a man by the name of Brenton Tarrant posted a hate-filled manifesto to social media, according to the Morning Herald.

It has also been reported that the suspect streamed the massacre on Facebook Live for approximately 17 minutes. New Zealand Police urged people not to view any “extremely distressing footage” being circulated online, and confirmed that the police are working to remove any footage from the Internet.

What we know about the victims

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed that at least 49 people have been killed in the shootings. Ardern said many of the victims are migrants and refugees.

The Canterbury District Health Board confirmed that 48 patients are currently being treated at Christchurch Hospital, including children to adults, some with critical injuries. People with gunshot wounds are also being treated at other hospitals.

What we know about the survivors

Survivors of the attack described a gunman wearing army-style clothing spraying the mosque with bullets. Noor Hamzah, 54, who was inside the Al Noor Mosque when the shooting began, described running for his life and hiding in the mosque’s carpark with several other worshippers, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Sabbir Hussain, who was inside the Linwood Masjid, said he hid in a wash and storeroom before jumping out a window to hide until police arrived, reports stuff.co.nz.

Among those who managed to escape with their lives were several members of Bangladesh’s cricket team, who were in Christchurch for a match against New Zealand. Players and coaches of Bangladesh’s cricket team were on a bus en route to Masjid al Noor mosque in Christchurch when the shooting started, reports the Associated Press. A Saturday match between the New Zealand and Bangladesh cricket teams has been cancelled.

The team’s batsman Tamil Iqbal Khan tweeted about the incident.

Team member Mushfiqur Rahmin also tweeted about the team’s narrow escape:

What have authorities said

Ardern said at a press conference that the tragedy in Christchurch could “only be described as a terror attack.” She had earlier condemned the attacks on Twitter:

Other leaders joined Ardern in denouncing the shooting. “I condemn the violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack that has stolen the lives of so many innocent New Zealanders as they went about their peaceful practice of worship at their mosques in Christchurch today,” said Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison Twitter.

Police have asked Christchurch residents to stay at home, and called for the closure of mosques across the country. “We have asked all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting,” the New Zealand Police said on Twitter.

The country’s national security threat level has been raised from low to high, according to the Associated Press.

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