pic by AFP
CHRISTCHURCH – Several shooting incidents happened in New Zealand’s Christchurch on Friday afternoon including inside two mosques, resulting in at least nine people dead in “six different places,” reported Xinhua news agency.
It is reported that at least two gunmen opened fire at two separate mosques in Christchurch. Witnesses described that there is much blood and multiple deaths.
Local media reported that at least nine people were shot dead. It is understood that gunshots happened in at least six different places.
According to reports, a gunman opened fire inside the Masjid Al Noor mosque full of prayers in central Christchurch during the afternoon praying time. The Bangladesh cricket team was about to enter the mosque when the shooting occurred, so the team members fled safely.
Local media also reported another shooting at a second mosque in a Christchurch suburb.
Armed police have been deployed to secure the places and hunt for the shooters. They urged local people to stay indoors. Local schools are also locked down.
“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high,” police said in a statement.
Police said they have already captured one suspect, and are hunting other possible suspects.
More casualties are feared as the situation is evolving.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the public at 4pm local time. She said “This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. My thoughts are with Christchurch.”
“It is an unprecedented violence in New Zealand. There is no place for such extreme violence in New Zealand,” Ardern said.
Chinese Consul General in Christchurch Wang Zhijian told Xinhua that emergency response has been activated. The Consulate General office is working with local police to check if there are any Chinese citizens being caught in the gunfire.