49 People Killed in New Zealand Mosque Shootings; 4 Held

By AAP
March 15, 2019 Updated: March 15, 2019

Mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers killed 49 people on what the prime minister called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” as authorities detained four people and defused explosive devices in what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the events on March 15, “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the national security threat level has been lifted from low to high after deadly shootings at two mosques.

Forty people were killed in Friday’s attack and four people were taken into custody, including one Australian. Ardern said none had been on any terror watch list.

The security threat level is now at the second-highest level. She said authorities had no reason to believe there were more suspects, but “we are not assuming that at this stage.”

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police have defused a number of improvised explosive devices found on vehicles after the mosque shootings.

A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for his actions. He said he considered it a terrorist attack.

Witnesses of NZ Shooting Fled Amid Bodies

People who were inside a Christchurch mosque when a gunman opened fire have described seeing others around them dying and injured as they fled the terrifying scene.

Syed Ahmed was among those worshipping at a mosque on the New Zealand city’s Linwood Avenue on March 15 when he says a man wearing a black motorcycle helmet and camouflage clothing begin shooting from outside.

The shooter was “shouting something” which Ahmed couldn’t hear over the sound of screams, before he crawled into a storeroom to get away.

Sabir Hussain told Stuff he was praying at the same mosque when he heard the imam (leader of the mosque) say “our brothers have been shot.”

He went into the washroom where he saw a man dead outside, prompting him to jump out a window and hide behind a fence until police arrived.

The Linwood Avenue mosque is one of two which have subject to a shooting, with another taking place at a mosque on Deans Avenue.

Len Peneha, who lives next door to the latter, told the Associated Press he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque at about 1.45pm.

He then heard dozens of shots as people ran out in terror and went into the mosque to help.

“I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said.

One person has been taken into custody and police are unsure whether others are involved.

“We are dealing with a very serious and tragic series of events in the Christchurch-Canterbury area,” police chief Mike Bush said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

RECOMMENDED