CHRISTCHURCH, March 15 (NNN-AGENCIES) — New Zealand police say they have detained four people in connection with deadly shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday and have secured a number of improvised explosive devices.
”Four are in custody, three of them are men and one is a woman,” Commissioner Mike Bush said.
He added that there were “significant” and “multiple” fatalities.
Commissioner Bush said the suspected IEDs found attached to the attackers’ vehicles had been made safe by the military.
Local media reported up six people were dead and that the South Island city had been placed in lockdown as police hunted for an “active shooter.”
”A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” police said in a statement.
”Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”
The Masjid al Noor was filled with worshippers, including members of the Bangladesh cricket team. One witness told stuff.co.nz he was praying in the Deans Ave mosque when he heard shooting and saw his wife lying dead on the footpath outside when he fled.
Another man said he saw children being shot.
An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with “blood everywhere”.
Unconfirmed reports said the shooter was wearing military-style clothing.
Police commissioner Mike Bush said all schools in the city had been placed in lockdown in response to “a serious ongoing firearms incident”.
”Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour,” he said in a statement.
Central city buildings, including the Civic Offices and Central Library, were also locked down.
The city council offered a helpline for parents looking for kids attending a mass climate change rally nearby.
”Please do not try and come and collect your children until police say it is safe for people to come into the central city,” they said. — NNN-AGENCIES