49 killed in mass shootings at 2 New Zealand mosques
At least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch Friday, in a carefully planned and unprecedented atrocity that shocked the usually peaceful nation.
The attack was unleashed at lunchtime local time Friday, when mosques were full of worshippers. Footage of the massacre was streamed live online, and a rambling manifesto laced with white supremacist references was published just before the shootings unfolded.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the horror as a terrorist attack, saying it was perpetrated by suspects with “extremist views” that had no place in her country or the wider world. It was one of the New Zealand’s “darkest days,” she said in a press conference Friday.
Authorities said that every law enforcement resource in the country was mobilized after the attack.
Three people were arrested in connection with the shootings. A 28-year-old man was charged with murder and will appear in court Saturday morning local time. Two others were arrested on suspicion of possession of firearms. Police were investigating their ties to the incident, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that at least one of those arrested is Australian. The atrocity was the work of an “extremist right-wing, violent terrorist,” he said.
Police were not searching for any other suspects in connection with the attack but stressed the investigation remained fluid. None of those arrested in connection with the attacks had been on any security watch lists prior to the attack.
A total of 48 people, including young children with gunshot wounds, were taken to hospital.
Attack apparently broadcast live on social media
Authorities declined to discuss the potential motives behind the attack. But in a social media post just before the shooting began, an account believed to be linked to the gunman posted a link to an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack. The manifesto was not signed.
Police said they were aware of a video shared online and broadcast live during the attack, which apparently shows a gunman walking into a mosque and opening fire. “We would strongly urge that the (video) link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed,” New Zealand police said.
The brazen nature of of the broadcast, and the tech companies’ failure to prevent its proliferation online, raised profound questions about the nature of internet radicalization. In New Zealand, commentators