WELLINGTON/CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (Reuters) – A gunman shot lifeless 49 folks and wounded greater than 40 at two New Zealand mosques on Friday, some as they had been kneeling at prayer, livestreaming on-line among the killings in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern referred to as an assault on the nation’s values.
The gunman broadcast footage of the assault on one mosque within the metropolis of Christchurch on Fb, mirroring the carnage performed out in video video games, after publishing a “manifesto” wherein he denounced immigrants, calling them “invaders”.
The video footage broadly circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted dwell on-line because the assault unfolded, confirmed him driving to a mosque, getting into it and taking pictures randomly at folks inside.
Worshippers, presumably lifeless or wounded, lay huddled on the ground, the video confirmed. Reuters was unable to substantiate the authenticity of the footage.
It was the worst ever mass killing in New Zealand and the nation raised its safety menace degree to the very best, Ardern mentioned, including, “This will now solely be described as a terrorist assault.”
Police mentioned three folks had been in custody together with one man in his late 20s who had been charged with homicide. He’ll seem in courtroom on Saturday. Police have recognized not one of the suspects.
“We weren’t chosen for this act of violence as a result of we condone racism, as a result of we’re enclave for extremism,” Ardern mentioned in a nationwide deal with. “We had been chosen for the truth that we’re none of this stuff. It was as a result of we characterize variety, kindness, compassion, a house for individuals who share our values.
“You will have chosen us however we completely reject and condemn you.”
Police Commissioner Mike Bush mentioned 49 folks had been killed. Well being authorities mentioned 48 folks had been being handled for gunshot wounds, together with younger youngsters.
Leaders world wide expressed sorrow and disgust on the assaults, with some deploring the demonisation of Muslims.
U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the “horrible bloodbath” in what the White Home referred to as a “vicious act of hate”.
The gunman’s manifesto praised Trump as “a logo of renewed white identification and customary objective”. The White Home didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
‘SHOOTING EVERYONE IN THE MOSQUE’
One man who mentioned he was on the Al Noor mosque advised media the gunman was white, blond and carrying a helmet and a bulletproof vest. The person burst into the mosque as worshippers had been kneeling for prayers.
“He had a giant gun…He got here and began taking pictures everybody within the mosque, in all places,” mentioned the person, Ahmad Al-Mahmoud. He mentioned he and others escaped by breaking by a glass door.
Forty-one folks had been killed on the Al Noor mosque, seven at a mosque within the Linwood neighbourhood and one died in hospital, police mentioned. Hospitals mentioned youngsters had been among the many victims.
The visiting Bangladesh cricket workforce was arriving for prayers at one of many mosques when the taking pictures began however all members had been secure, a workforce coach advised Reuters.
Three Bangladeshis had been among the many lifeless and one was lacking, the consulate mentioned.
Shortly earlier than the assault started, an nameless publish on the dialogue web site 8chan, recognized for a variety of content material together with hate speech, mentioned the author was going to “perform an assault in opposition to the invaders” and included hyperlinks to a Fb livestream, wherein the taking pictures appeared, and a manifesto.
The manifesto cited “white genocide”, a time period sometimes utilized by racist teams to consult with immigration and the expansion of minority populations, as his motivation.
The Fb hyperlink directed customers to the web page of a person referred to as brenton.tarrant.9.
A Twitter account with the deal with @brentontarrant posted on Wednesday photos of a rifle and different navy gear embellished with names and messages related to white nationalism. What regarded like the identical weapons appeared within the livestream of the mosque assault on Friday.
Fb mentioned it had deleted the gunman’s accounts “shortly after the livestream commenced” after being alerted by police. Fb, Twitter and YouTube all mentioned that they had taken steps to take away copies of the movies.
It was not instantly clear if the assaults on the two mosques had been carried out by the identical man.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison mentioned one of many males in custody was Australian.
All mosques in New Zealand had been requested to close their doorways and publish armed guards, police mentioned, including they weren’t actively in search of another “recognized suspects”.
Political and Islamic leaders throughout Asia and the Center East condemned the killings and voiced concern over the focusing on of Muslims.
“I blame these growing terror assaults on the present Islamophobia post-9/11,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan posted on social media. “1.three billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror.”
United Nations Secretary-Common Antonio Guterres reiterated “the urgency of working higher collectively globally to counter Islamophobia and get rid of intolerance and violent extremism in all its kinds,” a spokesman mentioned.
Six Indonesians had been inside one of many mosques, with three managing to flee and three unaccounted for, its international minister mentioned.
Afghanistan’s ambassador mentioned three Afghans had been wounded. Two Malaysians had been wounded, their international ministry mentioned.
Muslims account for simply over 1 p.c of New Zealand’s inhabitants, a 2013 census confirmed.
“FIRING WENT ON AND ON’
The web footage, which appeared to have been captured on a digicam strapped to a gunman’s head, confirmed him driving as music performed in his car. After parking, he took two weapons and walked a brief distance to the mosque the place he opened fireplace.
Over the course of 5 minutes, he repeatedly shot worshippers, leaving greater than a dozen our bodies in a single room alone. He returned to the automobile throughout that interval to alter weapons, and went again to the mosque to shoot anybody displaying indicators of life.
One man, with blood nonetheless on his shirt, mentioned in a tv interview that he hid from a gunman beneath a bench and prayed that he would run out of bullets.
“I used to be simply praying to God and hoping our God, please, let this man cease,” Mahmood Nazeer advised TVNZ.
“The firing went on and on. One individual with us had a bullet in her arm. When the firing stopped, I regarded over the fence, there was one man, altering his gun.”
The video reveals the gunman then driving off at excessive velocity and firing from his automobile. One other video, taken by another person, confirmed police apprehending a gunman on a pavement by a street.
Police mentioned improvised explosive units had been discovered. The gunman’s video had proven pink petrol canisters behind his automobile, together with weapons.
Violent crime is uncommon in New Zealand and police don’t normally carry weapons. Earlier than Friday, New Zealand’s worst mass taking pictures was in 1990 when a gun-mad loner killed 13 males, ladies and youngsters in a 24-hour rampage within the tiny seaside village of Aramoana. He was killed by police.
Further reporting by Tom Westbrook, John Mair and Swati Pandey in Sydney, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Michael Holden in London; Writing by Micheal Perry and Frances Kerry; Enhancing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie/Mark Heinrich