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  • Emergency services personnel push stretchers carrying a person into a hospital, after reports that several shots had been fired, in central Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, 2019, in this still image taken from video.

    Emergency services personnel push stretchers carrying a person into a hospital, after reports that several shots had been fired, in central Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, 2019, in this still image taken from video. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 March 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated that the Christchurch shooting is "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

One 28-year-old male has been charged with murder Friday in the shootings at two Mosques in New Zealand's city of Christchurch and was scheduled to appear in court Saturday.

The country's police authorities have confirmed that the latest death toll stands at 49, while 48 others are receiving treatment at the hospital. 

Two improvised explosives, which were earlier disarmed, appear to have been attached to same vehicle, the police chief stated in the press conference and clarifying information that was previously disseminated by the prime minister.

One of the attackers is confirmed to be an Australian citizen. Mosques across New Zealand will remain under police protection for the foreseeable future.

"We encourage members of the public to continue to contact family and friends through their own means to confirm their welfare," the police said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a second press conference Friday, provided updates on the horrific attack and and stated, without reservation, that the incident is a well-planned attack of terrorism carried out by extremists.

Ardern further disclosed that two improvised explosives, that were installed on the suspects' vehicles, had been disarmed. Four people have been held, but only three people are in custody in relation to the crime and are being questioned.

There are men, women and children among the fatalities. The suspects, armed with semi-automatic weapons, "were not on any watch list."

The police have not ruled out that other suspects may exist, Ardern warned during the address. Flights have been canceled in and out of Christchurch.

EARLY DETAILS OF DEADLY SHOOTING

Two shooting locations, one at Deans Avenue and one at Linwood Avenue, have been confirmed early on. The police warned that "the incident remains fluid and information is still coming."

New Zealand Police confirms that the lockdown of schools throughout Christchurch has been lifted and reassure members of the public that there is a large police presence in the city.

Police are warning people to stay away from Mosques.

One suspect - who appeared to have live-streamed the mass shooting, in a 17-minute video - revealed a white supremacist manifesto.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a first press conference, stated that the Christchurch shootings occurred across multiple locations. PM Arden said the tragedy is "one of New Zealand's darkest days," further stating that "this violence has absolutely no place in New Zealand this is not who we are" and that "this has occurred in a place where people should be safe and they weren't."

“Many of those who would have been affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand,” Ardern said. “They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home and it is their home ... they are us. The persons who has perpetuated this violence against us ... have no place in New Zealand.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he "shocked, appalled and outraged," at the attack on neighbors New Zealand. 

"We stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right wing, violent terrorist... they have stolen the lives in a vicious, murderous attack that has claimed so many New Zealanders."

Prior to Friday's incident, New Zealand’s worst mass shooting was in 1990 when a gunman killed 11 people in a 24 hour period in Aramoana.

“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush stated in an adrdress. “Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”

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Media reports are that at least one gunman opened fire inside a mosque in Christchurch’s Hagley Park. The authorities initially decline to comment on where the incident took place or give an official confirmation on casualties.

People who reside in the center of the city are being urged to remain indoors by police and all Christchurch schools and council buildings were placed into lockdown while armed members of the police force were dispatched to a second mosque in the suburb of Linwood.

Police officers do not usually carry guns because violent crimes are rare in New Zealand.

Media reported that shots had been fired near a mosque and a witness told broadcaster One News that he had seen at least three injured people lying on the ground outside the building. Meanwhile Radio New Zealand quoted a witness, who was inside the mosque, recounting hearing shots being fired and observing “there was blood everywhere” and at least four people were lying on the ground.

“Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred,” Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch, said.

According to the 2013 census, Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand’s population.

Bangladesh cricket team

Members of Bangladesh's cricket team were near the vicinity of the shooting, according to media citing a team coach. The team is in Christchurch to play New Zealand in a third test starting Saturday.

Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach of the Bangladesh cricket team have confirmed that the team are safe.

New Zealand Cricket has announced that the test has been canceled.

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