Two mosques attacked in New Zealand, multiple fatalities reported as city goes on lockdown
Multiple outlets are reporting that two mosques have been attacked in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Gunshots were heard near the Al Noor mosque around 1:40 p.m. local time. According to TVNZ, witnesses described hearing up to 100 gunshots. Police confirmed fatalities occurred but did not give a specific number, nor confirm how many were injured.
Police have urged individuals near the Christchurch city center to remain indoors as they respond to an "active shooter" situation. All schools in Christchurch have been placed on lockdown.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that Christchurch Police have arrested one person in connection with the attacks. However, Ardern said other individuals could be involved in the attack and cautioned Christchurch residents to remain sheltered and follow the instructions of local authorities.
"It is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence," Ardern said during a brief press conference. "Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was."
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush issued a statement which urged other mosques in the country to close for the day, saying, "We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice."
Bush added that New Zealanders should remain vigilant and report any suspicious behavior by dialing 111.
"We understand that there will be many anxious people but I can assure New Zealanders that Police is doing all it can to resolve this incident," Bush said.
Guardian reporter Eleanor Ainge Roy stated that police are also working to investigate believed explosive devices contained within a Subaru near the mosque.
Reports of an additional gunman at the Linwood Masjid mosque are unconfirmed by authorities, though TVNZ reports an estimated 150 people were inside the mosque at the time of the shooting.
According to a report from Radio NZ, Adam Ali was praying at the Linwood Masjid when a gunman entered the mosque and opened fire. Ali said he saw multiple people injured by gunshots as he escaped the mosque.
"I've lived in Christchurch for twenty-five years plus, I haven't seen anything like this. This is not right, this is not Christchurch. Day by day there's so much racism [and] the conflict we are getting, it's not right," Ali said.
The number of shooters involved has not been confirmed, but at least one of the gunman involved streamed the shooting on Facebook Live.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.