49 killed at mosques in 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'

49 killed at mosques in 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'

At least one gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 40 during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques in the country's worst ever mass shooting, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned as terrorism.

One has been identified as a male in his late 20s has been charged with murder and is expected to appear in court tomorrow.

- One of the suspected attackers - Brenton Tarrant - appears to have live-streamed the attack on Facebook.

The twisted shooter claimed to be "just a ordinary White man, 28 years old".

New Zealand was placed on its highest security threat level, Prime Minister Adern said, adding that four people in police custody, three men and one woman, held extremist views but had not been on any police watchlists. Police believe one of the arrested may have had nothing to do with the incident and are working to understand what the involvement of the other two people may be. "Two explosive devices attached to suspects' vehicles have been found and they have been disarmed".

The government of New Zealand is treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

National carrier Air New Zealand canceled at least 17 flights in and out of Christchurch, saying it couldn't properly screen customers and their baggage following the shootings. Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald that he heard about five gunshots and that a worshipper returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.

Three Bangladeshis were among the dead and one was missing, the consulate said.

"It's a big mosque and there were more than 200 people inside".

Facebook and New Zealand police deleted the shooter's accounts on Friday after a live-stream of the shooting was originally broadcast on Facebook.

He said: "An attack on a place of worship is an attack against all faiths, I'm confident that in the days ahead you will see all communities come together".

The gunman at one mosque was an Australian-born citizen, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Sydney, describing him as "an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist". One person was later released.

AFP confirmed the authenticity of the livestreamed video partly by matching the distinctive features at the mosque seen in the footage with images available online.

"If your child was attending the climate change protest in Cathedral Square and you want to check if they are in the Civic Offices, please call the Council Contact Centre on 03-941-8999", Christchurch City Council said.

Home to almost 400,000 people, Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand's South Island. In all, a total of 49 people were killed.

Just 1% of New Zealand's population of nearly five million are Muslim, according to government statistics, less than 50,000 people in 2013.

He described Christchurch as a "very peaceful city" that is still getting over the devastating 6.3 magnitude quake that hit in 2011.

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