Police in the New Zealand city of Christchurch are responding to a "serious and evolving situation" involving multiple shooters entering at least two mosques and opening fire during Friday prayers
"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," official Twitter handle of the New Zealand Police posted at 11.07am Malaysian time.
A witness says many people have been killed, a fact that has now been confirmed by the New Zealand Police on its Twitter account:
According to Vox, citing a Radio New Zealand report, there have been two shooting incidents so far: one at the Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park, and another at the Linwood Mosque in the suburb of Linwood.
Radio New Zealand reported an eyewitness inside the Al Noor Mosque saying that he saw at least four people lying on the ground and that "there was blood everywhere."
News site Stuff reported that nine people have been confirmed dead so far.
According to Vox, one of the shooters live-streamed his attack on social media, gruesomely displaying how he entered the mosque and shot innocents. The clip has since been taken down.
Several witnesses from inside and outside the Masjid Al Noor mosque, where hundreds of people were attending services at the time of the shooting, described scenes of carnage and chaos
Stuff reported a man, who would not give his name, saying he was praying in the Deans Ave mosque when he heard the shooting start.
He managed to escape but saw his wife lying dead on the footpath outside.
"My wife is dead," he said, wailing.
Another man said he saw children being shot.
Dozens of people were shot by a man wearing a military uniform, who emptied at least two magazines, said another man, adding: "There were bodies all over me."
The gunman was wearing a military-style jacket and a helmet
"He had a big gun and a lot of bullets and he came through and started shooting like everyone in the mosque, like everywhere.
"And they have to smash the door and the glass from the window and from the small door to try and get out," a witness was quoted saying by The Daily Beast.
"At first we thought it was an electric shock but then all these people started running," he said. I still have friends inside. I have been calling my friends but there are many I haven't heard from. I am scared for my friends lives," the witness, Mohan Ibrahim, added.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said "there is no place in New Zealand" for this kind of violence
Jacinda noted that the country is home to the people who were targeted at the mosques, adding that the incident was "one of New Zealand's darkest days".
"Whilst I cannot give any confirmation at this stage around fatalities and casualties, what I can say is that it is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.
"Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. 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. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.
"For now, my thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families. My thoughts also to those in Christchurch, who are still dealing with an unfolding situation," the New Zealand Prime Minister's statement, according to The Guardian.