Church leaders react with shock after NZ mosque shootings

April FrancisMar 17, 2019

An Australian gunman whose assaults on two New Zealand mosques Friday left at least 49 people dead, published a racist manifesto on Twitter before livestreaming his rampage.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said: "This can only be described as a terrorist attack".

The European Commission said: "This senseless act of brutality on innocent people in their place of worship could not be more opposite to the values and the culture of peace and unity that the European Union shares with New Zealand".

Police imposed a city-wide lockdown, sending armed officers to a number of scenes, and two IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were found attached to a vehicle and neutralised.

The prime minister said the attack reflected "extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand".

In addition to the main suspect, two other men are in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown.

New Zealand police said 49 people were killed.

At least 48 people, some in critical condition, were being treated at Christchurch Hospital for gunshot wounds, authorities said.

London's police service said it was "stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques and increasing engagement with communities of all faith, giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves".

Speaking to CNN, witness Mohan Ibn Ibrahim said he was inside the mosque when the shooting began and that he heard the gunman "continuously shooting for ten to 15 minutes".

An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand that he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with "blood everywhere".

Armed police on Linwood Ave and specialist armed police after the Linwood Mosque came under attack
JOSEPH JOHNSON STUFFArmed police on Linwood Ave and specialist armed police after the Linwood Mosque came under attack

"We are in contact with federal partners and the global intelligence community monitoring the tragedy in New Zealand", CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

New Zealand police have arrested three people in connection with the attacks including one man who has been charged with murder. Police said the manifesto contains conspiracy theories and echoes white nationalism seen at protests that resulted in violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. Police are treating the situation as an ongoing investigation despite the face they're not "actively looking" for any suspects, Bush said.

"An attack against peaceful people gathering for prayer is shocking in its cruelty and cynicism", Russian President Vladimir Putin said. The New Zealand-Bangladesh third Test match set to be played in Christchurch was cancelled.

He said he was in New Zealand temporarily while he "planned and trained" the attack.

"My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the awful massacre in the Mosques".

"We stand up against hate crimes against all religious communities".

The deadliest attack occurred at the Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1:45 p.m., when 41 people were killed.

As governments in Asia and the Middle East scrambled to find out how many of their citizens had been caught up in the Christchurch bloodshed, there was anger that the attackers targeted worshippers at Friday prayers. "It was an unprecedented act of violence", she said. Dunedin is a city near the southern tip of New Zealand, around 225 miles from Christchurch.

Police the attack was streamed online and police had the footage removed.

The shooting at the mosque on Deans Avenue next to Hagely Park, is near to Cathedral Square, where children were taking part in a global protest to raise awareness for climate change.

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