Witnesses describe New Zealand mosque shooting Photograph:( AP )
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was an "extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence"
New Zealand police said a gunman targeted a mosque in Christchurch as Friday prayers were underway even as they found IEDs inside the area.
The police informed that four people have been taken into custody. Authorities fear multiple deaths in the attack. The police still haven't confirmed the number of people killed in the shooting although it is feared that several have lost their lives inside the mosque.
"Four are in custody. Three are men and one is a woman," New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush told reporters in Wellington.
"There were a few reports of IEDs strapped to vehicles which we were able to secure," he said, referring to improvised explosive devices.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was an "extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" and that those "directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees".
Police can now confirm the lock down of schools throughout Christchurch has been lifted. We would like to reassure members of the public that there is a large Police presence in the city and the safety of the community is our priority.— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 15, 2019
"They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not."
Witnesses told the media that a man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle started shooting people in the Al Noor mosque.
"They should have been in a safe environment," PM Jacinda Ardern said as she sought to console a shocked nation.
Meanwhile, New Zealand cricket board in a tweet said it had cancelled the third Test with Bangladesh to be played at Christchurch's Hagley Oval due to the shooting incident in the city.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by the shocking situation in Christchurch. A joint decision between NZC and the @BCBtigers has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test. Again both teams and support staff groups are safe.— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) March 15, 2019
"We are shocked and appalled, as I'm sure all New Zealanders are," NZ Cricket chief executive David White said.
The Bangladesh cricket team was nearly involved in the incident after they took a bus to the mosque at the city's Masjid al Noor for Friday prayers as a shooting unfolded and were warned not to go inside.
"They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel," Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said.