Many deaths, injuries in Christchurch mosque shooting, says witness

Lester Mason
March 15, 2019

New Zealand's police said that one individual was in custody and there have been multiple fatalities due to a firearms incident in New Zealand's east coast city of Christchurch where mass shootings have been reported at three locations.

A gunman opened fire in a mosque in New Zealand on Friday and there were several casualties, media reported, after police deployed armed officers in response to shots fired in the centre of Christchurch city. Police urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors.

The Canterbury police tweeted about the situation from their official social media account. Police said they were dealing with an "active shooter" situation.

An unconfirmed report on Newshub said the death toll could be as high as 27.

Peneha, who lives next door to the mosque, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway, and fled.

Police had one person in custody but they were not sure if others were involved, and people should stay away from mosques.

A taxi driver in Deans Ave told Newstalk ZB that a jogger in the park said shots had been fired inside the mosque. "We understand that there will be many anxious people but I can assure New Zealanders that Police is doing all it can to resolve this incident".

"You think New Zealand is the safest place in the world, it's just really unexpected".

"I'm just heartbroken", he said. "In fact, I'm sitting here crying". This is New Zealand. "This can't happen here".

The head of the Federation of Islamic Federations of New Zealand, Dr Mustafa Farouk, told RNZ that up to 500 people were inside the mosque.

"We're dealing with a very serious and tragic series of events", Commissioner Bush said. "We are working to have any footage removed".

"A gunman - dressed in black with a helmet carrying a machine gun - came into the back of the mosque and started firing into the people praying there", said Clarke.

A second shooting has also occurred at another mosque in the suburb of Linwood, while a suspicious device, thought to be a bomb, has reportedly been found in a auto on Strickland Avenue.

Police have surrounded the auto and created a 300m cordon.

Christchurch is a coastal city of 404,500 residents. It was affected by a devastating quake in February 2011, which killed 185 people and triggered the collapse of thousands of buildings across the city.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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