Bloodied bandages lie on the road following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. Reuters
Christchurch: An Australian extremist killed multiple Muslim worshippers during Friday prayers, authorities said, in an apparently livestreamed attack that forced the New Zealand city of Christchurch into lockdown.
Police said two mosques were targeted in the attack that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said marked "one of New Zealand's darkest days".
Witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children also believed to be among those killed.
Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.
Peneha, who lives next door to the mosque, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway, and fled.
He said he then went into the mosque to try to help. “I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said.
Peneha said the gunman was white and was wearing a helmet with some kind of device on top, giving him a military-type appearance.
Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald he heard about five gunshots and that a Friday prayer-goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.
An Eyewitness told Radio New Zealand that he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with "blood everywhere."
‘I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque
Police said they had taken four people – three men and one woman – into custody.
A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings has reportedly left a 74-page, far-right, anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his motivations. He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian. The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed that one of the people arrested was an Australian-born citizen.
Jacinda Ardern at a news conference alluded to anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she said.
The man who claimed responsibility for the shooting is believed to have livestreamed at least one of the attacks. Police urged people not to share the footage.
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