As many as 49 people were killed and many injured in shooting in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. Gunmen live-streamed the shooting in social media. Armed police were rushed to the area.
The Bangladesh cricket team, which was scheduled to play the third and final Test against New Zealand on Saturday, had a narrow escape as they were about to pray in the Masjid Al Noor mosque, which is situated near the stadium.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the massacre as one of the “darkest days” of the country.
Here are the live updates:
One person from Hyderabad was injured and another with roots in Hanamkonda was reported missing. The injured person has been identified as Ahmed Iqbal Jahangir, a 35-year-old restauranteur, and Farhaj Ahsan, a 31-year-old techie, has been reported as missing. The family of Mr. Jahangir said that he moved to New Zealand around 15 years ago and set up a restaurant there.
India condemns attack, calls it a ‘heinous terrorist attack’
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, PM Narendra Modi expressed his deepest condolences and underscored India’s solidarity with the friendly people of New Zealand at this difficult time. The Prime Minister stressed India’s strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and of all those who support such acts of violence. He stressed that hatred and violence have no place in diverse and democratic societies.
‘Islamophobia’ responsible for attack, says Pak. PM Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that increasing “Islamophobia” after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US was responsible for the attack. “Strongly condemning” the terror attack on the mosques in New Zealand, Prime Minister Khan tweeted: This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families.”
We were lucky not to be caught in crossfire: Bangladesh cricket team manager
“We were really lucky. Had we reached even three or four minutes earlier, we probably would have been inside the mosque,” said Bangladesh cricket team manager Khaled Mashud on Friday after narrowly escaping the deadliest terror attack in New Zealand’s history.
The Bangladesh team, which was scheduled to play in the third and final Test against New Zealand starting on Saturday, was on its way to the mosque, when the attack happened The tour has now been called off.
Indian mission in New Zealand offers support
India’s High Commission in New Zealand has said that any Indian national affected by the attacks on two Christchurch mosques can contact the mission for assistance. The mission tweeted two contact numbers 021803899 and 021850033 for providing assistance.
“We are shocked to hear about the shooting in Christchurch. Any Indians needing assistance should contact us at 021803899 or 021850033. Our prayers go out to everyone who is affected. Help us spread the word. Stay safe!!” the Twitter account of the Indian High Commission in New Zealand reads.
National carrier Air New Zealand has cancels at least 17 flights in and out of Christchurch, saying it couldn’t screen customers and their baggage following the deadly shootings.
The airline says some smaller planes travelling on regional routes are cancelled while larger jet planes would continue landing and taking off due to security screening processes already in place.
Police say the death toll has gone up to 49.
A gunman at one mosque is an Australia-born person, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says in Sydney, describing him as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.
Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim says a Malaysian has been wounded in an attack.
“I am deeply saddened by this uncivilized act, which goes against humanistic values and took the lives of civilians,” he says in a statement.
Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Wahidullah Waissi, says three Afghans had been wounded. “My thoughts are with the family of Afghan origin who’ve been shot and killed at this heinous incident.”
Some 48 people, including children, are being treated in a Christchurch hospital after the shootings.
Wounds range from minor to critical, health authorities say.
Erdogan condemns attacks
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemns the attacks. He calls them the “latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”
Tweeting in English and Turkish, he says: “On behalf of my country, I offer my condolences to the Islamic world and the people of New Zealand, who have been targeted by this deplorable act.”
Six Indonesians were present at mosque, three yet to be traced
Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi says six Indonesians were at the Al Noor Mosque when the shooting occurred and three of them escaped. “We are looking for three other Indonesian citizens.”
The Indonesian Embassy in Wellington sends a team to Christchurch and it is coordinating with New Zealand officials.
The foreign ministry says there are 330 Indonesian citizens in Christchurch, 130 of them students.
It says it strongly condemns the attacks. “The government and the people of Indonesia convey deep condolences to the victims and their families.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says 40 people have lost their lives and more than 20 seriously injured in the shootings.
Addressing a media conference, Ms. Ardern says 10 were killed in one mosque, while 30 were shot dead in another mosque.
She confirms that four people, including a woman, have been detained in connection with the massacre. “They were not on security watch lists,” she says. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she asserts and adds that the national security threat level has been lifted from low to high.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirms that one of the four people taken into custody in the shootings is an Australian.
Australians are shocked, appalled and outraged by the attacks, he says.
Whistleblower website Wikileaks has released a document claiming to be the manifesto of those who claimed responsibility for the shootings.
The manifesto says the shooter is a 28-year-old white Australian who came to New Zealand only to plan and train for an attack.
The lock down of schools throughout Christchurch has been lifted. “We would like to reassure members of the public that there is a large Police presence in the city and the safety of the community is our priority,” police tweet.
Police say three men and a woman are in custody in connection with the attacks.
Test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh on Saturday cancelled
The New Zealand Prime Minister says the shootings have plunged the country into one of its “darkest days”.
“What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us,” tweets Ms. Jacinda Ardern.
“The person who has committed this violent act has no place here,” she says and appeals to the people of Christchurch to stay indoors.
Police say one person has been taken in custody.
“Police is responding to a very serious and tragic incident involving an active shooter in central Christchurch. One person is in custody, however Police believe there may be other offenders…. This is an evolving incident and we are working to confirm the facts,” @nzpolice tweeted.
Police also confirm “there have been a number of fatalities” without giving a specific number. “We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.”
Shooting live-streamed in Facebook
Police say they are hunting “an active shooter”.
Local channels show footage of the shooting from a Facebook live-stream believed to be from the shooter’s account.
Facebook, Twitter and Youtube delete the videos of the massacre and block the accounts from which they were live-streamed.
However, many users are posting a recorded video of the live-stream.
Another mosque targetted
New Zealand media say a shooting has occurred in a second mosque in Christchurch. No details are immediately available.
Bangladesh players escape unhurt
“Entire team got saved from active shooters!!!” tweets Bangladesh player Tamim Iqbal. “Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.”
“The players are shaken up but fine… I spoke to one of them shortly after (the incident),” Mario Villavarayen, the team’s strength and conditioning coach tells New Zealand Herald.
Local media report multiple casualties at one mosque and say another had been evacuated.
Police commissioner Mike Bush says all schools in the city are placed in lockdown in response to “a serious ongoing firearms incident”.
An eyewitness tells Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people lying on the ground with “blood everywhere”.
There is no official information on the casualties but the New Zealand Herald says at least one person was killed.
Shots are fired at or near mosque in Christchurch. Police urge people nearby to stay indoors.
“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” says a police statement.
“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high,” it adds.
(With inputs from AP, AFP, Reuters, The Hindu correspondents)