Forty-nine people have been killed and 48 wounded in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the nation’s deadliest attack.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as a terrorist attack and one of New Zealand’s “darkest days”.
A gunman identifying himself as an Australian live-streamed the rampage at Al Noor mosque to Facebook. He had espoused racist, anti-immigrant views.
Police say a man in his late 20s has been arrested and charged with murder.
Two other men and one woman were also detained.
No names have been made public. Firearms and explosive devices were recovered, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
The gunman live-streaming the attack from a head-mounted camera said he was a 28-year-old Australian called Brenton Tarrant. The footage showed him firing at men, women and children from close range inside the Al Noor mosque.
Facebook said it had removed the suspect’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage. The live-stream of the attack lasted for 17 minutes.
The suspect who was charged appeared to have published a document online outlining his intentions as well as details about the plan for the attack. He is due in court on Saturday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the man as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist. New Zealand Police Commissioner Bush confirmed that the man had not been known in advance to either New Zealand or Australian security services.
- Witnesses ‘prayed for end to bullets’
- What are New Zealand’s gun laws?
- Agonising wait for victims’ families
- Bangladesh cricket team escapes shooting
How events unfolded
The first report of an attack came from the Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at 13:40 on Friday (00:40 GMT).
A gunman drove to the front door, entered and fired indiscriminately for about five minutes.
One unnamed survivor told TV New Zealand that he had seen the gunman shoot a man in the chest. The attacker reportedly targeted the men’s prayer room in the mosque, then moved to the women’s room.
God please, let this guy run out of bullets,” the witness said. “He came to this side, he shot this side, he went to another room and went to the ladies’ section and shot them. I just heard one of the ladies has died.”
The gunman is then said to have driven about 5km (three miles) to another mosque in the suburb of Linwood where the second shooting occurred.
One witness desribed how one of the worshippers had managed to disarm the man, who ran to a waiting car outside\