49 Killed in Terrorist Attack: ‘They Have No Place in New Zealand for Mosque Shooters’

March 15, 2019 Updated: March 17, 2019

At least 49 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

New Zealand will not harbour anyone responsible for firing weapons at South Island mosques, the country’s prime minister has said on March 15.

Jacinda Ardern from the left-leaning New Zealand Labour Party has made a stern warning to those responsible for mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques.

“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she told a media conference.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the death toll has increased to 49.

Bush told a news conference that a man has been charged with murder and will appear in court tomorrow. He would not say whether the same shooter was responsible for both attacks.

Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison also tweeted: “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.”

Earlier in the day, Ardern had said: “They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home, they are us.

“The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not, they have no place in New Zealand.”

“It is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” she said, adding victims of the attack should have been safe to exercise their freedom of belief. “Where they should have been in a safe environment and they have not been today.”

New Zealand Police confirmed three men and one woman are behind bars and will be questioned on their suspected involvement in the deadly attacks.

“It doesn’t get any more serious,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said. “The attackers were apprehended by local police staff. There has been some absolute acts of bravery.”

Police are unaware of other people who may be involved but cannot rule out there are other accomplices at-large.

Bush advised the general public to postpone visiting any mosque within New Zealand until the police investigation has ended and it is safe again.

“It is a very serious and grave situation,” he said.

Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been identified as the key suspect and a 74-page manifesto posted to a message board website, entitled The Great Replacement, which was allegedly authored by him.

Police believe the document contains evidence Tarrant planned to carry out the deadly shootings at Christchurch mosques to avenge the deaths of thousands in Europe.

In the manifesto, Tarrant describes himself as “just an ordinary white man, 28 years old. Born in Australia to a working class, low-income family.” He also explains he carried out the attack to avenge “thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders.”

At the first shooting a gunman opened fire at the Masjid Al Noor mosque at 1:40pm local time, where a witness claimed there could have been as many as 300 people praying.

The mosque along with the second mosque in the Linwood neighbourhood have been closed for investigation. Police previously confirmed all of the city’s schools and council buildings had been placed into lock down, and urged everyone in the downtown area to stay indoors as reinforcements flood the area.

The prime minister said she understood how staying inside means some families are separated but urged people to stay in lock down until police say otherwise.

Police have since lifted the lock down on schools and thanked the public their their co-operation.

With additional reporting by The Australian Associated Press.