New Zealand mosque shootings kill 49 in what PM calls 'terrorist attack'

Australian media broadcast footage from Christchurch shootings despite police warnings

AT LEAST 49 people have been killed in shootings at two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, in a social media post just before the attack, an account that is believed to belong to one of the attackers posted a link to an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack.

New Zealand was placed on its highest security threat level, Prime Minister Adern said, adding that four people in police custody, three men and one woman, held extremist views but had not been on any police watchlists. "And amongst that diversity we share common values", she said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the gunman responsible for shootings was an Australian-born citizen. Two others, whose roles remain unclear, are in custody.

Two IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were also found and neutralised by the military, police said.

One eye witness said that the gunman entered from the main entrance of the building and began shooting. "It must have been an automatic - no one could pull a trigger that quick", the man, who did not wish to be named, told AFP. He then walks outside, where he shoots at people on the sidewalk. "Some were covered in blood", he said, adding that he joined the fleeing crowd and managed to escape.

- One of the suspected attackers - Brenton Tarrant - appears to have live-streamed the attack on Facebook.

AFP has examined the footage, which has subsequently been taken down.

Police, who initially imposed a city-wide lockdown, sent armed officers to a number of scenes.

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.

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She added that this was "one of New Zealand's darkest days". An additional person died at the hospital. It is unclear where the remaining victim died.

The police commissioner warned anybody who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand on Friday to stay put.

"There were bodies all over", he said.

Research showed that young people from the Muslim community were "adapting well to life in New Zealand" and were enjoying more positive outcomes compared with both Maori and European peers, the Victoria University of Wellington's Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research reported in 2010.

Felix took to social media today to tweet: 'Just heard the news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. Friday is Islam's holy day.

"If your child was attending the climate change protest in Cathedral Square and you want to check if they are in the Civic Offices, please call the Council Contact Centre on 03-941-8999", Christchurch City Council said.

The government of New Zealand is treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

Christchurch Airport took to Facebook to announce that Air New Zealand had cancelled 17 regional flights out of the city, with at least a dozen more arrivals also cancelled.

However, anyone over 16 can apply for a standard firearms licence after doing a safety course, which allows them to purchase and use a shotgun unsupervised.

Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald he heard about five gunshots and that a Friday prayer-goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.

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