Christchurch mass shooting: death toll rises to 49

Christchurch mass shooting: death toll rises to 49

As many as 49 people were killed and many injured in shooting in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. Gunmen live-streamed the shooting in social media. Armed police were rushed to the area. The Bangladesh cricket team, which was scheduled to play the third and final Test against New Zealand on Saturday, had a narrow escape as they were about to pray in the Masjid Al Noor mosque, which is situated near the stadium. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the massacre as one of the “darkest days” of the country.


This picture released by Radio New Zealand shows ambulances rushing towards the mosque after a firing incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.

The police say the death toll is up to 49. The gunman at one mosque is an Australia-born citizen, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says in Sydney, describing him as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.
Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim says one Malaysian has been wounded in one attack. “I am deeply saddened by this uncivilized act, which goes against humanistic values and took the lives of civilians,” he says in a statement.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Wahidullah Waissi, says three Afghans had been wounded. “My thoughts are with the family of Afghan origin who’ve been shot and killed at this heinous incident.”

Some 48 people, including children, are being treated in Christchurch Hospital after the shootings. Wounds range from minor to critical, New Zealand health authorities said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemns the attacks. He calls them the “latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”

Tweeting in English and Turkish on Friday, Mr. Erdogan says: “On behalf of my country, I offer my condolences to the Islamic world and the people of New Zealand, who have been targeted by this deplorable act.”

Six Indonesians were present at mosque, three yet to be traced

Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi says six Indonesians were at the Al Noor Mosque when shooting occurred and three of them escaped. “We are looking for three other Indonesian citizens.”

The Indonesian Embassy in Wellington sends a team to Christchurch and it is coordinating with New Zealand officials. The foreign ministry says there are 330 Indonesian citizens in Christchurch, 130 of them students.

It says it strongly condemns the attacks. “The government and the people of Indonesia convey deep condolences to the victims and their families.” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says 40 people have lost their lives and more than 20 seriously injured in the shooting.

Addressing a media conference, Ms. Ardern says 10 were killed in the first mosque, while 30 were shot dead in the second mosque.

She also confirms that four people, including a woman, have been detained in connection with the massacre. “They were not on security watch lists,” she says on the people in custody. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she says. Ms. Ardern says national security threat level lifted from low to high after the incident.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that one of the four people taken into custody in New Zealand’s mosque shootings is an Australian.

Mr. Morrison says Australians were shocked, appalled and outraged by the attack. He describes the gunman as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.” Whistleblower website Wikileaks has released a document claiming to the manifesto who claimed responsibility for the shootings.

The manifesto says the shooter was a 28-year-old white Australian who came to New Zealand only to plan and train for the attack.

The lock down of schools throughout Christchurch has been lifted. “We would like to reassure members of the public that there is a large Police presence in the city and the safety of the community is our priority,” New Zealand Police has tweeted. New Zealand police say three men and a woman in custody over shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch has plunged the country into one of its “darkest days”.

“What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us,” tweets New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“The person who has committed this violent act has no place here,” she adds and appeals to the people of Christchurch to stay indoors. New Zealand Police says one person has been taken in custody.

“Police is responding to a very serious and tragic incident involving an active shooter in central Christchurch. One person is in custody, however Police believe there may be other offenders…. This is an evolving incident and we are working to confirm the facts,” @nzpolice tweeted.

Police also confirmed “there have been a number of fatalities” without giving a specific number. “We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.”

Shooting live streamed in Facebook

New Zealand police say they are hunting “an active shooter”. Local channels show footage of the shooting from a Facebook Live stream believed to be from the shooter’s account.

Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have deleted the videos of the massacre and have blocked the accounts from which they were live streamed. However, many user are posting a recorded video of the live stream.

Another mosque targeted

New Zealand media say a shooting has occurred in a second mosque in the city of Christchurch. No details were immediately available.

Bangladesh players escape unhurt

“Entire team got saved from active shooters!!!” tweeted Bangladesh player Tamim Iqbal. “Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.” Bangladesh is scheduled play Test against New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday. The mosque is near the cricket stadium and the players had gone for their Friday prayers.

“The players are shaken up but fine… I spoke to one of them shortly after (the incident),” Mario Villavarayen, the team’s strength and conditioning coach told New Zealand Herald.