A gunman has stormed two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, taking the lives of over 40 people in a crime authorities initially said looks to have been inspired by hatred for Muslims.
The Washington Post reports that more than 20 are seriously injured after the gunman, heavily armed and clad in military-style gear opened fire during ceremonial Friday prayers or Jumah
New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has reportedly described the incident as a "carefully-planned terrorist attack" and "one of the darkest days" in New Zealand.
The Friday, March 15, 2019 shooting has seen four people arrested into police custody. One man in his 20s whose name has been withheld, is expected to appear in court on Saturday, March 16.
The suspects had reportedly not been on security watch lists.
According to the Washington Post report, police had deactivated an improvised explosive device, and are working to disarm a second. These devices had been attached to a vehicle used by the suspects.
Counter-terrorism forces were activated across New Zealand and Australia, as New Zealand elevated its national security threat level to “high” for the first time in the country's history.
Portions of the fatal attack at the mosque were broadcast live on social media by a man who police confirmed had also released a manifesto aimed against Muslims and immigrants.
New Zealand has a very small Muslim population.In a country of nearly 5 million, about 46,000 residents are Muslim, according to data from the 2013 census.
Islam in New Zealand is practised by mostly refugees and immigrants to the country.
Prime Minister Ardern described the victims as people who "are us".
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