WELLINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) – At least one gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 20 during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques in the country’s worst ever mass shooting, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned as terrorism.
A gunman broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a “manifesto” in which he denounced immigrants, calling them “invaders”.
New Zealand was placed on its highest security threat level, Ardern said, adding that four people taken into custody held extremist views but had not been on any police watchlists.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said, call this “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
Police said later three people were in custody and one m
an in his late 20s had been charged with murder. He will appear in court on Saturday.
The visiting Bangladesh cricket team was arriving for prayers at one of the mosques when the shooting started but all members were safe, a team coach told Reuters.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said 49 people had been killed in total.