The Al Noor Mosque in Christchurh, New Zealand. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

Shootings at New Zealand mosques leave 49 dead

Forty-nine people are dead and dozens are wounded after shootings at two mosques in New Zealand.

According to the New Zealand Herald, four people are in custody after gunmen opened fire at the mosques in the city of Christchurch. The paper quoted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as saying this was an “unprecented” situation.

“It is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern told the Herald. “From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspects’ vehicles have been found and they have been disarmed.”

Three men and a woman were arrested. One has since been charged with murder. According to the Herald, none were on any terrorism watch list. Shortly before the attack, one of the suspects reportedly posted to social media an 87-page manifesto that was littered with Islamophobic comments and explanations for why the attack was about to occur. A security analyst who read the manifesto told the Herald that it was “straight out of the white supremacist playbook.”

The shooter also live-streamed the attack. Police are asking people to not watch or share the video, which is still circulating online.

Ardern told reporters that it was clear these attacks had been planned for some time and that it is clear the shooters were motivated by hate.

“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world,” she said.