At least 49 people have been killed, and 20 seriously injured, after mass shootings at two mosques during Friday prayers in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
The mosques were packed with worshippers gathering for Friday afternoon prayers, and members of the Bangladesh cricket team were arriving when the shooter opened fire.
The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said this was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” as police uncovered explosive devices attached to cars and commissioner Mike Bush urged all mosques across the country to close their doors for the time being. “Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high,” Bush said.
Four people were taken into custody – three men and one woman. One person was later released. A man in his late 20s has been charged with murder and will appear in Christchurch court on Saturday. The police have not named him.
The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, called the massacre a “rightwing extremist attack” and said one suspect was Australian-born, without giving further details.
Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has condemned the attacks. The OIC represents 57 nations with large or majority-Muslim populations.”The brutal crime had shocked and hurt the feelings of all Muslims around the world, and served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia,” he said.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has tweeted his condolences to the victims of the attack, and confirmed that there will be “highly visible” and armed police around mosques in the UK capital on Friday. “I want to reassure the Muslim communities in London. I have been in touch with the Met Police. There will be highly visible policing around mosques today, as well as armed response officers, as Londoners go to pray,” he said.