CHRISTCHURCH: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says 40 people have died in the Christchurch shootings.
Ten were killed at Linwood and 30 at the Deans Ave mosque near Hagley Park. A further 27 people were injured.
Ardern said it was an “unprecedented” situation and described it as a terrorist attack.
Those in custody had not been on any watch list: “It’s not a matter of someone having slipped under the radar.”
She said it was obvious the attacks had been planned for some time.
The National Security Threat Level had been lifted from low to high.
The Defence Force was transporting more police to Christchurch.
Ardern said New Zealand was a place of safety where they raise their families.
“Those values will not and cannot be shaken,” she said.
Four arrested after massacres at mosques
Gunmen opened fire at mosques in Christchurch earlier today. Four people are in custody – three men and one woman.
The Police Commissioner Mike Bush said “there have been some absolute acts of bravery” in the arrests of the four attackers.
A number of IEDs that were attached to vehicles in Christchurch have been defused by the Defence Force.
Bush said there were multiple casualties – a “significant” amount.
“This is absolutely tragic. So many people are affected.”
“We don’t have the identities of those who have died yet because those places are in lockdown.”
He said he would not assume there aren’t other attackers.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed one of the gunmen was an Australian citizen living in New Zealand.
Morrison said he was “shocked, appalled and outraged,” at the attack.
“We stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right wing, violent terrorist.
“[He] has taken the lives,” he said, before correcting to: “they have stolen the lives in a vicious, murderous attack that has claimed so many New Zealanders.
Morrison said the attack reminds us about the evil that is ever present and would seek to “strike us out at any time.”
The lock down of schools throughout Christchurch was lifted at 5.50pm.
When asked if it was true that a person had been arrested wearing wired explosives, Bush said that person had been made safe.
“We’re still working through that but we believe there was a claim but that person has been made safe.”
Bush said he was aware that footage of the Al Noor Mosque shooting was on social media and police were doing everything they could to get it removed.
“It shouldn’t be in the public domain.”
Facebook Australia-New Zealand policy director Mia Garlick said the videos have been taken down.
“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video.”
He said police did not have conclusive information about the motivation behind the shootings.
He would not call it a terrorist attack but said it did not get any more serious in this country.
“We are currently dealing with an unprecedented situation in New Zealand. It’s very grave, it’s very serious.”
One of NZ’s darkest days
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
A body has been seen lying near Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch and a second gunman has been seen near Linwood Masjid mosque.
One of the gunmen broadcast live as he shot victims.
One of the gunmen is believed to be an Australian who has written a manifesto declaring his intentions.
In it, he says “it is a terrorist attack.”
Ardern described the event as “extreme and unprecedented violence”.
She will be flying to Wellington where she will speak with agents as soon as she lands.
“I’m not currently in a position to confirm the number of deaths or injuries,” Ardern said.
“This is and will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
Ardern looked to be struggling to keep her emotions in check as she spoke.
Bush said Police are pouring resources into the Christchurch area.
He said they were also setting up a facility so that people could get phone in and get more information about their loved ones as a priority.
Bush said Defence Force aircrafts in Wellington were ready to fly more resources into the area.
“I want to assure the public we are doing everything we can to make sure there is no more harm to their communities.”
There was no indication there were other shooters at large.
The multiple fatalities were at two locations – a mosque at Deans Ave and one at Linwood Ave.
St John said there have been multiple fatalities.
People suffered injuries ranging from minor through to critical gun shot wounds.
A number of helicopter and road ambulances are on standby to provide support, including transporting patients to other ICUs around the country.
St John has deployed resources from throughout the country to provide cover for the next few days.
A Christchurch Star reporter saw a dead body lying close at Palazzo Lane near Al Noor Mosque.
The body has been covered with clothing.
A witness has seen a child lying in the middle of Deans Ave and another man has told the Herald his relative was shot inside the mosque.
It is understood the shooting at the mosque lasted six minutes and that the shooter may have returned to his car to retrieve more ammunition before opening fire again.
A large cordon has blocked off Strickland St around 3km from the Hagley mosque shooting.
A local man said a white van is at the centre of police focus. They believe a bomb is suspected to be inside.
The police bomb disposal unit is at the scene.
A Christchurch woman has reported watching a man being arrested on Harrow Street.
Images captured of the scene show a man being apprehended by a police officer. Two police cars are stationed nearby, blocking off the street.
“I saw people drop dead in front of me.”
A man, who would only be known as Nour, who crawled to safety amid the carnage of the shooting has told Christchurch Star of what happened.
Nour in the front row of prayers when the gunman came in.
“First he shot people outside. Then he came in the front,” he said.
He heard the gun being reloaded about three times.
The gunman began shooting in all directions.
“I saw people drop dead in front of me. I was crawling to get away.”
“It was hitting the walls,” he said.
Nour crawled across the floor of the mosque to a window that had been broken by others as they fled and jumped trough it.
He jumped over a neighbouring wall. He ran around the block and he could still hear shooting.
Mohan Ibrahim described to the Herald running for his life to escape the gunman. He was one of 200 people in Christchurch’s Masjid Al Noor mosque when he heard shots being fired.
“At first we thought it was an electric shock but then all these people started running.”
He said there had been lots of people killed and many injured.
“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.”
He said there had been lots of people killed and many injured.
A man who took in people who escaped from the mosque has shared their description of the gunman.
He was white, aged in his 30s or 40s and wearing a uniform, but he had not been able to ascertain what the uniform was, Oakford Close resident Robert Weatherhead said.
“[They said] ‘he had a lot of magazines strapped to his legs’,” Weatherhead said.
A man who was in Al Noor Mosque during a shooting says it was absolutely full for noon prayers. He believed many have been killed.
A woman told the Christchurch Star she lay in her car near the mosque as four to five men came running towards her.
She was unsure if they were gunmen. Moments earlier she heard what she thought was gunfire.
“When the noise got louder I saw four or five men running. I put my seat down and lay down so they wouldn’t see me.
“I didn’t think I’d live to see this happening in my country,” she said.
Zinzan Hawke, who lives near Al Noor Mosque, said he was sleeping when he work to 20-40 gun shots and a man running into his house with a bullet wound 3 inches into his leg.
Hawke with his three flat mates, who live on Brockworth Pl, called an ambulance and applied pressure on the victim’s leg.
The victim told Hawke that he had just been at the mosque, multiple shots were fired and fled the scene immediately looking for assistant .
He said the victim didn’t see the armed gunman, but heard bullets ringing around.
Hawke said that the victim told him he was almost shot in the stomach.
“I didn’t realise something of this maginitue could happen in New Zealand,” Hawke said.
Hawke said the ambulance never arrived so one of his flat mates drove the victim to hospital.
Second shooting at mosque in Linwood
A second shooting happened at a mosque in the Linwood area of the city.
One Friday prayer goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.
Witnesses said they heard multiple gunshots around 1.45pm.
A well known Muslim local chased the shooters and fired two shots at them as they sped off.
He was heard telling police officers he was firing in “self defence”.
“They were in a silver Subaru,” he told police.
Mark Nichols, manager of Premium Tyres and Auto in Linwood, said he a gunman ran past his shop around 45 minutes ago.
He heard five gunshots, and he believed the activity was centred around the nearby Linwood Masjid mosque.
He saw two injured people carried on stretchers past his shop. Both appeared to be alive.
“I seen a guy with a gun running up the road. He’s been firing about five shots, I think we heard,” Nichols said.
“It might have been a shotgun. I didn’t get a good luck at it, I just cleared off.
“Apparently there have been people in the mosque shot, and a police officer’s been shot too.
“It’s not very good, we’re in shutdown mode now. It’s all cordoned off.”