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New Zealand mosque shooting: 4 people in custody, police recover IEDs strapped to vehicles

Witnesses describe New Zealand mosque shooting Photograph:( AP )

WION Web Team Christchurch, New Zealand Mar 15, 2019, 10.42 AM (IST)

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".

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"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.

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"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.

Story highlights

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was an "extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence"