WELLINGTON: Forty people have been killed and at least 20 others injured in shootings at two mosques in New Zealand city of Christchurch in an unprecedented attack in the quiet countryside in the Pacific.
The two targets were the Masjid Al Noor in central Christchurch, and a mosque in suburban Linwood.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that the mosque shootings appear to have been a well-planned terrorist attack.
“We believe that 40 people have lost their lives in this act of extreme violence. It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. At least, 30 people were killed at the Al Noor mosque, the city’s main mosque, and another 10 at a mosque in the suburb of Linwood”, he added.
“Four people had been taken into custody based on the incident”, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
As per the report, two explosive devices attached to suspect vehicles were found and have been disarmed.
Video footage widely circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, showed him driving to one mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.
The news agency Reuters reported that the visiting Bangladesh cricket team was arriving for prayers at one of the mosques when the shooting started but all members were safe.
As per the report, all mosques in New Zealand had been asked to shut their doors.
Police warned worshippers not to visit mosques anywhere in New Zealand