CHRISTCHURCH, March 15 (NNN-AGENCIES) — The death toll has risen to 49 in the terror attacks that took place Friday afternoon in this quiet city of New Zealand.
In what is said to be well coordinated terrorist attacks, several locations in the city including two mosques, were attacked by gunmen. The attacks, which left the city in shock also saw another 48 people injured. Two Malaysians were among the injured.
Gunmen had opened fire at two mosques in the city of Christchurch during afternoon prayers on Friday, said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has thoroughly condemned the incident.
An incident of such violence has never happened in the country before, she said, describing them as among “New Zealand’s darkest days”.
Ardern said New Zealand had been placed on its highest security threat level.
She said four people already in police custody held extremist views, but had not been on any police watchlists.
One of New Zealand’s darkest days”New Zealand Prime Minister
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she said. “From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned.”
“Two explosive devices attached to suspect vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed,” she added.
The two mosques are located at Deans Avenue and Linford Avenue.
An Australian citizen, described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a right-wing “terrorist”, is among the four.
“We stand here and condemn, absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” Morrison told a press conference.
“It is such a sad and devastating reminder of the evil that can be ever present about us,” Morrison said.
New Zealand’s police commissioner Mike Bush earlier warned worshippers not to visit mosques “anywhere in New Zealand”.
Police also requested all mosques in the country to “shut their doors” and advised that “people refrain from visiting the premises until further notice”.
The Masjid al Noor in Deans Avenue had been filled with worshippers – including members of the Bangladesh cricket team – at the time of the attack.
People in the centre of the city should stay indoors, police said. All Christchurch schools and council buildings have been placed under lockdown.
A Malaysian was also confirmed as one of the injured by the country’s High Commission in New Zealand.
“So far, one Malaysian is confirmed injured and currently receiving treatment at the hospital,” the commission said on its Twitter account.
Six Indonesians were praying at one of the mosques when the gunman opened fire, Indonesia’s foreign ministry said. Three of them were able to escape, but the whereabouts of the other three remain unknown, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi was cited as saying in The Jakarta Post.