Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 October 2019

Christchurch shooting: At least 49 dead in mosque attacks - as it happened

Forty-nine people are dead and 48 injured in two terror shootings in the southern New Zealand city. Follow the latest developments here

At least 49 people were killed and 48 injured after a gunman opened fire during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, southern New Zealand.

New Zealand Police say four people - three men and a woman - have been arrested, one of which was filmed being taken down in a dramatic police chase.

Follow the latest developments here. All times UTC +4

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15:30 World leaders condemn terror attack

Donald Trump, the US President, expressed his "warmest sympathy" and said the United States stands by New Zealand.

Pope Francis, sent a telegram to a Catholic Cardinal in New Zealand saying he is deeply saddened.

Imran Khan, Pakistan's prime minister, expressed his condolences and said he was alarmed by the further rise of Islamophobia.

"This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families."

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who is New Zealand's Head of State, said she was "deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today".

Read more reaction from the world

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15:10 'It's going to change the way we do stuff'

City councillor Yani Johanson, who had been working on a multicultural strategy for Christchurch, represents the Linwood ward where one of the targeted mosques was located.

He saw armed police and rushed to the council buildings, where around 100 students were protesting against climate change. "I came in and thought 'Oh my god, they're just sitting targets'," he told The National.

They were ushered upstairs into council chambers and were in lockdown for four hours.

He said it was extremely traumatising for the city, as Christchurch had only just been allowed to accept refugees again after the 2011 earthquakes that killed 185.

"There's no place for hate in our community. This is just not who we are and it's amazingly how many people have been saying that," he said.

"The earthquakes were awful and they were horrible but they were Mother Nature... but to have such a deliberate act against you as a community, and to have that targeted at a specific group think that was it's just horrific.

"New Zealand fundamentally is a good place. But it's going to change the way we do stuff."

He went on to say Christchurch was "such a small place" and people would need to rally together to help those who had lost someone in an attack that was “just heart-breaking”.

"Tomorrow is going to be incredibly difficult, I'm going to know people who have lost family members or have been killed themselves," he said.

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14:55 New Zealand's murder rate was at 40-year low

The terror shootings has shocked New Zealand. The country's former prime minister Helen Clark says the country has lost its innocence and will have to assess whether its security services need more resources to counter extremism.

According to police figures released in 2018, the country's murder rate was at a 40-year-low.

A report, published by Stuff, showed that there were 35 murders in 2017 in the country, over the whole 12 months.

Figures from 2018 had not yet been released.

The mosque terror attacks meant that number had been surpassed in one day in 2019.

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14:30 Social Media companies move fast to remove Christchurch suspect’s video

The horror of the terror attack in New Zealand directed at mosques in Christchurch was compounded by the fact that part of it was broadcast live and the footage shared through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, Cody Combs reports.

New Zealand police alerted Facebook to the suspect’s live video broadcast shortly after it began, and the company quickly took it down, said Facebook public policy manager Shaarik Zafar.

Some clips from the attack footage were also shared on YouTube, prompting it to try to stop the videos from spreading, while Twitter has deactivated the account of the main suspect, but it was still archived by other websites.

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14:15 Sheikh Mohammed: We condemn and express our deepest sorrow

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, condemned the Christchurch mosque attacks.

He said "we have witnessed the most heinous crime of religious hatred... Our condolences to New Zealand [and] to the families of the victims."

Meanwhile, the UAE ambassador to New Zealand affirmed the safety of all Emirati students in New Zealand following the attack.

Ahmed Salim Al Suwaidi said the UAE mission has communicated with Emirati students in the country to make sure of their safety and urge them to exercise maximum caution during such exceptional circumstances, WAM reported.

The embassy has allocated the following phone number: 006448302949, for emergency calls in addition to the following local emergency contact: 111.

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13:55 Police investigation in Dunedin

A street in Dunedin, a town in New Zealand's South Island about 360 kilometres south of Christchurch, has been cordoned off in relation to the attacks.

Armed police moved in on Somerville St, in the suburb of Anderson's Bay, and people living nearby were told to stay indoors.

Police are believed to be speaking to someone in connection to the Christchurch attacks.

In the suspect's online manifesto he said he originally planned to attack the Al Huda Mosque in Dunedin, after a post made by the Otago Muslim Association.

However, he changed his mind after visiting Christchurch and the mosques which he then targeted today.

Several police have now been posted outside the Al Huda Mosque.

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13:45 Christchurch mosque attacks, a recap of events

Here's a brief recap of events in Christchurch in New Zealand:

  • 49 people have been killed in a terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch
  • Dozens of injured are being treated at Christchurch Hospital
  • A man - thought to be Australian Brenton Tarrant - has been charged and will appear in court on Saturday
  • Three others are being held in connection to the attacks
  • UAE and world governments condemn attack
  • Social media companies working to scrub live-stream of attack from channels

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13:30 Flags at half-mast

Jacinda Ardern has instructed all Government departments to fly the New Zealand flag at half mast until further notice.

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13:25 Australian PM slams senator's tweet

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has slammed a tweet from Australian Senator Fraser Anning, who had earlier tweeted asking: "Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?"

In several following tweets, Mr Anning continued to connect the Christchurch attacks to Islam.

Morrison called the comments from Anning "disgusting".

Mr Morrison responded:

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13:20 Who is main suspect 'Brenton Tarrant'?

A still image taken from video circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded. Reuters
A still image taken from video circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded. Reuters

Video footage and a rambling 74-page manifesto offers an insight into the main suspect in the Christchurch mosque shootings that left at least 49 dead.

A man calling himself Brenton Tarrant shot a 16-minute bodycam video on Friday as he drove to Al Noor Mosque on the city's Deans Avenue.

He is believed to be the main person behind what New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as an "unprecedented" attack on the country.

Read more

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13:15 UK and France step up security around mosques

British police stepped up patrols around mosques on Friday and said they were speaking with community leaders following the attacks in New Zealand, Paul Peachey reports in London

We are monitoring events in New Zealand closely and send our condolences to all those affected,” said Neil Basu, the UK’s head of counter-terrorism.

“Our international network of UK counter terrorism officers will be ready to support our counterparts in New Zealand.”

Similar measures are being taken in France.

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13:10 'Police rammed car carrying bomb off street'

Christchurch resident James Dann said he was in the city centre when the police told crowds to leave immediately.

He later returned home to find police nearby, surrounding the car police had identified as having the explosive device.

"I was in the square with thousands of others at the student’s climate march. It was starting to wind down, but there were still hundreds of school kids around when the police started telling them to dissipate, saying that something had happened. I checked Twitter and saw that there was an ‘incident'," he told The National.

A police blockade is seen at the intersection of Brougham Street and Selwyn Street. Getty Images
A police blockade is seen at the intersection of Brougham Street and Selwyn Street. Getty Images

"No one really knew what was going on - not even the police really. We had no idea how serious it was. We knew the schools were on lock down.

"I made my way home down Colombo St, through crawling traffic. As I got to Brougham St, I could see to my right that there was more police activity. I found out later it was the Subaru that the police had rammed off the road, which was carrying a car bomb."

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12:48 Children among murdered in mosque shootings

Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates confirmed 48 patients, ranging from "young children to adults" were being treated at Christchurch Hospital.

Injuries ranged from critical to minor. Further patients had gone to other health facilities across the city.

 Christchurch Hospital. Getty Images
 Christchurch Hospital. Getty Images

"Twelve operating theatres are currently in use and due to the nature of some of the injuries, many people will need multiple surgeries," he said.

Some other services had been diverted to other hospitals across the country.

"Around 200 family members are on site awaiting news of their loved ones. Together with police we are providing support to these people."

Armed police had placed a cordon around the hospital, but it had since been lifted.

Representatives from the mosque and the Muslim community, including translators, were on site to assist with communications.

"Once we have provided for the medical needs of those injured, and the wellbeing of their families and whanau, we will be able to focus on the psychosocial wellbeing of our wider Canterbury community," he said.

"We envisage we will see an increasing demand for wellbeing support over the coming days and weeks as the reality and enormity of what has happened in our city today sinks in."

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12:35 'A dark day for our city'

Christchurch city councillor Raf Manji told The National this was a "terrible tragedy and an appalling act".

"The city is still in shock and coming to terms with the news that 49 people are confirmed dead from this act of terror.

"Right now our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and those who still lie injured in hospital. It is a dark day for our city."

Police and forensics at the Al Noor mosque. AFP
Police and forensics at the Al Noor mosque. AFP

Mr Manji said the lockdown for all buildings, schools and offices finished at about 6pm. Councillors would be back in their offices on Saturday for "briefings and updates on the situation".

"It's been a tough day, reminiscent of February 22nd [the Christchurch eearthquake]. I fear for the mental health of this city. Kids locked down in school afternoon... this is going to be another long haul, once the enormity of what has happened sinks in."

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12:30 This is New Zealand's worst terror attack

The previous deadliest mass murder occurred in Aramoana, a small seaside township northeast of the South Island town of Dunedin, on November 13, 1990.

In that attack, Aramoana resident David Gray, killed 13 people, including a police officer, after a disagreement with his neighbour.

That attack led to sweeping changes to New Zealand's firearms legislation, leading to the country's now incredibly strict gun laws.

This includes 10-year photographic licences and tight restrictions on semi-automatic guns.

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12:25 'It's a reminder some people who think we don't belong'

Steve Liew, a software manager in Christchurch, said he found out about the attacks when his wife, who works at Christchurch Hospital, called to tell him they were on lockdown.

Christchurch resident Steve Liew. Courtesy Photo
Christchurch resident Steve Liew. Courtesy Photo

She had since managed to leave. Liew is part of the city's migrant community, having moved to Christchurch five years ago from Singapore.

"Christchurch is already home... as a migrant though, it's a reminder that there are people who think we don't belong," he told The National.

He now feels "kind of weird" about being a migrant in the city.

"I've felt like I'm part of Christchurch and New Zealand, I've never felt out of place. But I'm not so sure now.

"That said, I've only personally experienced one incident of outright racism in the public, and my colleagues have always treated me like one of their own."

Thousands of people had been marching across the country at the time of the attacks, including in Christchurch, as part of a global climate change strike.

"I thought today was about the kids’ climate change protest," Liew said.

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12:08 New Zealand Police raise death toll to 49

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush. Getty Images
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush. Getty Images

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the death toll had now been raised to 49.

A man in his late 20s had been charged with murder and will appear in court on Saturday. He reiterated that three others had also been apprehended.

He would not confirm the man was Brendon Tarrant, saying it would be "improper" for him to comment on that.

"I know that there is a name that is in the public domain," he said.

Two improvised explosive devices had been found on one vehicle - not two vehicles as had earlier been reported.

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11:57 Twitter 'proactively working to remove video content'

Brenton Tarrant, one of the extremists, suspected of carrying out the attack on Al Noor Mosque had live-streamed his actions. Social media companies said they are working to scrub content from its platforms.

A spokesperson for Twitter said: "Twitter has rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing exigent and emergency situations such as this. We also cooperate with law enforcement to facilitate their investigations as required.

"We have suspended the account in question and are proactively working to remove the video content from the service. Both are in violation of our policies."

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11:45 'I never could believe that something like this could happen in Christchurch'

Police officers guard the area close to the Al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch. AFP
Police officers guard the area close to the Al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch. AFP

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel issued a statement urging people in the city to "remain absolutely calm".

"I would never believe that I would be standing in front of a camera and talking to the people of Christchurch about the shocking incident that has affected us all," she said.

"The city remains in lockdown and it's important that if people are inside, that they remain inside."

She said schools and public facilities remained closed, and it would remain in lockdown until further notice.

"I never could believe that something like this could happen in the city of Christchurch, but actually I would never believe that this would ever happen in New Zealand but it looks like the worst has happened. But we need to pull together and get through this situation.

"All we can do now is trust the police to do what they do best.

"I'm really sorry to be saying this to you today."

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11:35 UAE's Gargash: thoughts with New Zealand

The UAE Minister of State of Foreign Affairs sent his condolences to New Zealand following the shooting. He tweeted:

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11:00 Explosions in Auckland after suspicious bag found

Two "controlled explosions" have been carried out in Auckland after a suspicious bag was found in a street in the central city.

Armed police had cordoned off a street in central Auckland, near Britomart train station, where a black backpack with orange stripes was found on the road, Stuff reported.

Police used a robot to plant explosives by the bag, causing two loud explosions.

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10:55 'The guy went from room to room to room just shooting'

A view of the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch. Reuters
A view of the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch. Reuters

Christchurch Newshub journalist Thomas Mead was at the Deans Ave mosque about ten minutes after hearing about the shooting.

"It was pandemonium," he told The National.

"The police were hiding behind civilian cars, pointing rifles down the street. They were screaming at people to get down. Then there was just ambulance, after ambulance after, ambulance."

Mead said he spoke to a number of people who had been inside the mosque at the time.

"I spoke to a man who had blood on his clothes. He was inside when the shooting happened. He said the guy went from room to room, just shooting."

Journalist Marc Greenhill, who works at Christchurch's main newspaper The Press, said police had been called to a number of areas around Christchurch, but the shootings had been confined to the two mosques.

The armed offenders squad had been called out to Papanui High School, with unconfirmed reports a number of suspects may have been heading there. The students were in lock-down for three hours before being released.

Police were currently attempting to get the shooter's video footage taken down from social media. It had been circulated on YouTube and Facebook.

Greenhill confirmed a 4-year-old boy was in a critical condition in Christchurch Hospital. Other victims included a husband and wife in their 50s who were active mosque helpers.

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10:35 40 dead and 20 wounded in attacks

Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, confirmed that 40 people were killed in the mosque attacks. Twenty others are injured.

Ms Ardern said the attacks were well-planned by extremists. Three people remain in custody including one who has been identifed as an "Australian right-wing, violent terrorist".

Ten had been killed at the Linwood Avenue mosque, and three "outside the mosque itself".

Thirty had been killed at the Deans Avenue mosque. More than 20 further people were seriously injured. Two explosive devices had been found and had been disarmed.

Of the four people who had been arrested in connection with the attacks, three were connected to the attack. One had publicly claimed he was Australian, she said.

Ms Ardern said the people arrested had exhibited "extremist views", and "it is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack".

Jacinda Ardern said people arrested had exhibited "extremist views", and "it is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack". Getty Images
Jacinda Ardern said people arrested had exhibited "extremist views", and "it is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack". Getty Images

New Zealand's national security threat had been raised from low to high. She believed the suspects had not been on terrorism watch lists.

In a moving closing statement to the country, she said many who had been targeted were from the migrant community and "Christchurch was the home to those victims".

"It was a place that many came to for its safety. A place where they were free to practise their culture and their religion," she said.

"You may have chosen us, but we utterly condemn and reject you."

Air New Zealand has cancelled all turboprop planes out of Christchurch.

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10:35 All Blacks star mourns for victims

All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams, a practising Muslim, posted a video on Twitter to condole with the families of the victims.

"I am just deeply, deeply saddened that this would happen in New Zealand," Williams said in the video, which was posted before the official death toll was revealed.

The Auckland-born rugby player and heavyweight boxer converted to Islam in 2009, becoming the first Muslim player in the New Zealand national rugby team.

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10:30 ' Terrorist' in NZ mosque attack Australian

The gunman was a right-wing extremist with Australian citizenship, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said the shooting in Christchurch was carried out by "an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist" who was an Australian-born citizen.

He declined to provide further details, saying the investigation was being led by New Zealand authorities.

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10:30 Dramatic armed police arrest after mosque attack

olice officers pursuing the gunmen suspected of killing dozens in two Christchurch mosques rammed a vehicle off the road and physically tackled one man to the ground, witness footage shows.

A video appears to show one officer striking one suspect with his gun to take him alive.

The police vehicle had apparently driven into the side of the suspects' grey estate and forced it up onto the curb, its front wheels still spinning in the air.

An officer is shown reaching into the car and dragging a person out as the second officer kept their gun drawn. Read more

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Jacinda Ardern: One of New Zealand's darkest days

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Mosque locations

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Christchurch shooting: What we know

Updated: March 15, 2019 05:47 PM

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