CHRISTCHURCH, March 15 (NNN-AGENCIES) — A solemn New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch had plunged the country into one of its “darkest days”.
“Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” Ardern said in an address to a shocked nation.
New Zealand police have confirmed multiple fatalities at two mosques during afternoon prayers.
“Presently the police do have one suspect in custody. However, there could be others involved,” Ardern said.
“There are multiple scenes involved in this incident as well and police will be giving more details as they can as the situation unfolds,” she added.
“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here,” Ardern said.
“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 should have been in a safe environment,” she said.
“For now, my thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families.”
Ardern also urged residents to follow police’s instructions to remain indoors.
“I acknowledge that that may mean that some families are separated … (but) please remain in lockdown (as) we are potentially still dealing with an evolving situation.”
The prime minister said she was going to return to the nation’s capital city of Wellington where she would meet with government agencies.
“I intend to speak again publicly at that point.”
Echoing her comments, leader of the opposition Simon Bridges said: “We stand with and support the New Zealand Islamic community.
“No one in this country should live in fear, no matter their race or religion, their politics or their beliefs.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was among the foreign leaders who expressed their concern.
“I’m horrified by the reports I’m following of the serious shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand,” he said.
“The situation is still unfolding but our thoughts and prayers are with our Kiwi cousins.” — NNN-AGENCIES