New Zealand military detonate unattended bags in Auckland 'as a precaution'

New Zealand was put on high alert following the attack. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Christchurch, New Zealand Mar 15, 2019, 01.13 PM (IST)

The New Zealand military detonated two unattended bags near an Auckland railway station Friday, as the country was put on high alert following a deadly terror attack on two mosques.

"A short time ago Defence Force personnel carried out a controlled explosion of the bags as a precautionary measure," police said in a statement. 

"Police can confirm the bags were not suspicious and contained scaffolding equipment."

Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 40 dead Friday, with one gunman – identified as an Australian extremist -- apparently livestreaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city.

Witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children also believed to be among those killed.

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying it marked "one of New Zealand's darkest days". 

"From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned," she said, adding that in addition to the dead another 20 people were seriously injured. 

Story highlights

Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 40 dead Friday, with one gunman – identified as an Australian extremist -- apparently livestreaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city.