Sources confirmed that 40 people have been killed in New Zealand’s city of Christchurch on Friday. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that 20 others were in serious condition after the “terrorist” attack.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said four suspects were in custody – three men and a woman.
Sam Clarke, a reporter with TVNZ, spoke with several people inside the Masjid Al Noor mosque when the shooting began. He told Al Jazeera a man entered with an automatic weapon and began firing.
“A gunman – dressed in black with a helmet carrying a machine gun – came into the back of the mosque and started firing into the people praying there,” said Clarke.
Police confirmed a second shooting occurred at the Linwood mosque during Friday prayers in the South Island city, but no details were immediately available.
Ardern said: “This is, and will be, one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
Authorities have not described the scale of Friday’s shootings but urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors. New Zealand media reported between nine and 27 people were killed, but the death toll could not be confirmed.
Police warned worshippers not to visit mosques “anywhere in New Zealand”. A lockdown imposed throughout Christchurch was called off at about 05:00 GMT.