At least 49 killed in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques

Mass shootings a pair of mosques killed at least 49 people Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The dead include 41 people killed at a Deans Avenue mosque and seven at a Linwood mosque, while another victim died at Christchurch hospital, according to the Guardian.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the tragedy as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and said the events in Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

Ardern during a news conference said “it is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack,” that she described as being “well planned.”

The prime minister said four individuals had been apprehended with three directly connected to the attack in custody, one of them Australian-born.

According to reports, a 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and will appear in the Christchurch District Court on Saturday morning, while two others remain in custody.

Authorities haven’t said whom they have in custody. But a man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for his actions. He said he considered it a terrorist attack.

New Zealand police described the mass shooting as a continuing situation, with a significant number of law-enforcement officers and investigators in the Christchurch area.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that one individual involved in the attack was an Australian citizen, and was identified as an “extremist right-wing violent terrorist.”

“These are people I would describe as having extremist views,” said New Zealand’s Ardern.

Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.

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

Peneha said he then went into the mosque to try and help.

“I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said. “It’s unbelievable, nutty. I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”

With AP reporting

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