New Zealand shooting: 49 dead at Christchurch mosques
Shooter live-streamed video of worshippers being gunned down in country's deadliest massacre
At least 49 people have died and dozens more have been injured in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques by a gunman who live-streamed the attack via a GoPro camera.
Three people are in custody in connection with the massacre, which began at around 1.40pm local time (12.40am GMT) .
In footage live-streamed to social media, the shooter is heard to say, “Let’s get this party started”, before approaching the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch and opening fire on worshippers attending Friday prayers.
He continued to record himself as he moved calmly from room to room, gunning down dozens of people with an assault rifle, as others smashed windows and scaled fences in a desperate attempt to flee.
The gunman, possibly together with accomplices, then drove about three miles east to the Linwood Masjid mosque and embarked on a second rampage.
Farhaan Farheez, who survived the attack, told The Sydney Morning Herald: “The whole mosque was filled with blood and dead bodies. It was like a battlefield.”
Police arrested the gunman inside a car that was later found to contain several weapons and two improvised explosive devices.
In all, 41 people died at Al Noor, and another seven at Linwood, while one victim has since died in hospital.
Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates told the New Zealand Herald that surgeons expected to work into the night treating 48 victims with gunshot wounds ranging from minor to critical.
“We have had 12 operating theatres that have been operating since this afternoon and will be continuing through until about midnight,” he said.
The shooter is said to have identified himself as Brenton Tarrant, an Australian national. Minutes before the massacre, a Twitter user of the same name posted “an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack”, CNN reports.
Although New Zealand is one of the world’s most peaceful countries, Christchurch “is known to have an active white-supremacist subculture”, says The Guardian.
Police commissioner Mike Bush said that a 28-year-old man is due to appear in court tomorrow charged with murder.
Two other suspects remain in custody, while the fourth person arrested has since been cleared of involvement.
Bush said that two improvised explosive devices attached to the shooter’s vehicle have been disabled, and warned that other attackers could still be at large.
Worshippers have been told to stay away from mosques until further notice and Christchurch residents have been encouraged to stay indoors.
Addressing a press conference, Prime Minister Ardern described the attack as “one of New Zealand's darkest days”. The country has not experienced a mass shooting event since 1990, when 13 people were killed in the seaside town of Aramoana.
Condolences and expression of solidarity have poured in from around the world, including a personal message from the Queen, New Zealand’s ceremonial head of state.
“I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives,” she said in a statement.
“I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured. At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.”