New Zealand: Ultra-right extremists murder 49 people in two mosques, live-streaming their crime
During shootings in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, 49 people died today, leading New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to call this one of the darkest days in her country's history. Local police have arrested three men and one woman in association with the attacks; one of those detained is Australian.
Officers say the action was apparently well-organized and that those arrested also had explosives prepared for detonation in their cars. Police are investigating the motivation for the crime and have called on all the mosques in the country to close.
New Zealand authorities have increased the degree of security threat in the country from "low" to "high". Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has informed the press that one of the arrested persons is an Australian citizen.
According to media reports, the Australian suspect is named Brenton Tarrant, from Grafton in New South Wales. The New Zealand shootings happened in the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, which are more than four km apart from each other in the center of the city of almost 400 000.
One shooter live-streamed the crime on social networks and had published a long statement there explaining his motivation prior to the shootings, according to media reports. In that video, which news server Romea.cz has seen but will not be publishing, a gunman can be seen shooting into the entrance of a mosque with an automatic rifle covered with slogans, murdering the first victims.
The gunman then proceeds into the mosque and shoots another person, who attempts to crawl away after being injured, then brutally kills other innocent people who are doing their best to escape. Police are asking social network users to stop sharing the brutal video.
One eyewitness said at least 50 gunshots were heard during one of the attacks, and another man who was directly inside one of the mosques told local television that the shooter came through the main entrance during Friday prayers. When the gunman began shooting, people began fleeing in panic.
According to that eyewitness, the bloodshed lasted several minutes. Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the media that his officers were addressing a "situation that has no precedent".
Police have no information about other potential perpetrators, but that risk cannot be ruled out. According to Bush, nobody should visit mosques for the time being under any circumstances.
"Many of those who were afflicted by these shootings could have been immigrants, they may also be refugees. They chose New Zealand as their new home, and it is their home," Ardern said while in transit from the capital, Wellington, to Christchurch, which is located on New Zealand's South Island.
"Those people are one of us. The person who committed this violence against us does not belong among us," Ardern said.
"We aren't just allies, we aren't just partners, we're family. [...] We are in mourning, we're in shock, we're horrified, we're outraged," Australian Prime Minister Morrison said, condemning the terrorist attack that has taken so many lives.
Members of Bangladesh's national cricket team, who are in New Zealand for a series of international matches, had been planning to visit one of the mosques that was attacked today. The team's planned match with New Zealand has been cancelled because of the tragedy.
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