Several people were killed in attacks on two mosques packed town of new zealand, Christchurch during Friday prayers, according to police, the First minister referring to the violence “unprecedented” in this peaceful nation in the South Pacific.
The police, who spoke of a “significant” number of people dead, has announced four arrests, adding to have defused improvised explosive devices.
Witnesses said they saw bloodied bodies. Children would also be included among the dead. The police has asked people not to share images extremely difficult” after the release of a video showing a white man is filming, tugging on worshippers in a mosque.
The mosques of this town from Ile-du-Sud were met in the Friday prayers.
A Palestinian present in one of the places of worship said that he had seen a man be shot in the head.
“I heard three shots fast and after about ten seconds, it started again. This had to be an automatic weapon, nobody could pull the trigger as quickly,” this man said to AFP under cover of anonymity. “Then people started running out. Some were covered in blood.”
Local media reported that up to nine people had died and that several others had been injured.
– Avoid the mosques –
The prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has said that his country knew one of his days “darkest”, denouncing the attacks, unprecedented in this country deemed to be safe.
“Clearly, what happened is an act of extraordinary violence and unprecedented.” The victims may be migrants or refugees, “have chosen to make New Zealand their country, and it is their country. They are us. The person who committed this violence against us is not it”, she lamented.
A wide area of Christchurch had been cordoned off by the police before being lifted a few hours later. “This is an incident moving and we are working to confirm the facts,” said commissioner Mike Bush.
The police has asked all the faithful to avoid the mosques “throughout New Zealand”.
A witness told the news website Stuff.co.nz as he was praying in the Masjid al-Noord on the avenue Deans when he heard the gunfire. Taking flight, he saw his wife dead in front of the religious building.
Another man said he saw children being shot. “I had my body all over me”.
– “Blood everywhere” –
A witness told Radio New Zealand that he had heard shots and saw four people lying on the ground, “with blood everywhere”.
All the schools of the city had been completed. The police had called on “all those who are present in the centre of Christchurch not to go out in the street and report any suspicious behavior”.
Public buildings such as the central library were also closed.
The municipality has opened a line of emergency telephone for parents worried about the fate of their children, who were participating in a march against climate change not far away.
“Do not attempt to pick up your children before the police did not say that people can go in the centre of the city safely,” warned the municipality.
No official information on the exact number of victims was available in the late afternoon.
The cricket team of Banglasdesh, a sport extremely popular in this country, is made in one of the mosques at the time of the shooting but none of the players turned up to play a match in New Zealand was injured, according to a spokesperson.
“They are safe. But they are in a state of shock. We have asked the team to stay confined in his hotel,” he told AFP.
New Zealand is renowned for its low crime. In this country, “the use of firearms to commit crimes remains a rare event,” writes the u.s. State department in its advice to travellers.
According to the census of 2013, some 46,000 people identified themselves as muslim in New Zealand, which is a little over 1% of the total population.
In 2017, six worshippers were killed in a mosque in Quebec, Canada, on the occasion of the worst attack from anti-muslim in the West. The author of the shooting has been sentenced to life in prison.