March 15, 2019 17:47:08
At least 40 people are believed to have been killed in shootings at two separate mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Police say four suspects — three men and one woman — are in custody and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed one of them is Australian.
Here’s what we know about how the two shootings unfolded.
A gunman opened fire inside the Al Noor mosque during Friday afternoon prayers
Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque near Hagley Park in the city’s centre about 1:45pm (local time).
Other witnesses described the man as being dressed in a military-style camouflage outfit and carrying an automatic rifle.
Mr Peneha, who lives next door to the mosque, said he then heard dozens of shots and saw people running from the building in terror.
The mosque was reportedly busy at the time and a man who managed to escape told Radio New Zealand “there was blood everywhere”.
A short time later, Mr Peneha said the gunman ran out of the mosque and dropped what appeared to be a gun on his driveway.
The man then fled the scene.
On Twitter, a coach for the Bangladeshi Test cricket team on tour in New Zealand, confirmed some players were outside the mosque when the gunshots began.
“They didn’t see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground and just started running,” he said.
An attacker also opened fire inside the Linwood mosque
Witness Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald he heard about five gunshots there.
He said he then saw two injured people being carried out on stretchers past his automotive shop and both people appeared to be alive.
The Linwood mosque is located about 6.5 kilometres from the Al Noor mosque.
The city was placed in lockdown
Shortly after the shootings, all schools were placed in lockdown and parents were told their children would not be able to leave school grounds until the lockdown was lifted.
All hospitals in the area, at least two shopping centres, and Christchurch City Council buildings were also placed in lockdown, with police warning people to stay indoors.
At 6:10pm (local time), police confirmed the lockdown at local schools had been lifted.
However, authorities have asked all mosques across the country to shut their doors.
Police say four people are in custody
At 5:30pm (local time), police confirmed they had arrested four people, including three men and one woman.
Christchurch Police Commissioner Mike Bush also confirmed a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has been attached to vehicles in the city, but those vehicles had been made safe.
Police warned that one of the shootings was allegedly recorded and streamed live by a gunman, and the video was being widely spread.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travelled to Wellington where she was further briefed by authorities.
She said she would travel to Christchurch as soon as possible.
March 15, 2019 16:57:27