15 Mar 2019
New Zealand: Gunman opens fire at mosques, several feared dead
In a gruesome incident, at least two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch area were attacked by unidentified gunmen on Friday afternoon (local time).
More than a hundred people were present at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Masjid mosque in Central Christchurch area. Multiple deaths are feared.
Police have been responding effectively and one shooter has reportedly been taken into custody.
Here's what happened.
Bangladeshi cricket team had a narrow escape
According to reports, one of the gunmen live-streamed the barbaric attack on Facebook.
Notably, the Bangladeshi cricket team was in the area when the incident happened. They ran when they heard the gunshots, said Mario Villavarayan, their strength and conditioning coach.
Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal tweeted it was a "frightening experience".
The team was due to play New Zealand at Hagley Oval on Saturday.
Never seen anything like this: Eyewitnesses
The horror was recounted by several witnesses who said they had never seen anything like this before.
"I have been calling my friends but there are many I haven't heard from. I am scared for my friends' lives," said Mohan Ibrahim to BBC.
Another man said there were at least 110 people present at Linwood Ave mosque. "We all went for cover," he said.
Schools were shut down in Christchurch
Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed that all schools have been placed in lockdown in view of "ongoing firearms situation".
The Christchurch Hospital was also locked down and all appointments have been canceled.
The district health board barred patients or staff members from entering or leaving the building. People were asked to not visit the hospital unless it was an emergency.
Series of events
Man living next door to mosque says he saw gunman
Len Peneha, who lives close to the Masjid Al Noor mosque, said he saw a man dressed in black entering the establishment. Soon he heard dozens of shots and people ran for their lives.
The alleged gunman dropped what seemed like a semi-automatic weapon in Peneha's driveway and fled.
He said he saw at least three dead in the hallway.
No place for such crimes in New Zealand: PM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who canceled all her appointments for the afternoon, said it was "an unprecedented act of violence". She added the victims were part of the New Zealand community, but the perpetrator was not.
Ardern said those who were present inside the mosques were exercising their religious rights and they should feel safe while doing it.
"It will be one of New Zealand's darkest days," she added.
How can people do this: Peneha
"I saw dead people everywhere. It's unbelievable nutty. I don't understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It's ridiculous," Peneha told Washington Post.