Firing at New Zealand mosques claim 49 lives; Bangladesh match called off

A large number of people were offering namaz at the mosque Al Noor located in central Christchurch of New Zealand when they were attacked

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Christchurch: At least forty-nine people died in an incident of firing at two mosques in this city of New Zealand on 15 March. Police have detained four people in connection with the firing in two mosques here on Friday and recovered an improvised explosive device (IED).

A person with cropped hair person was spotted walking towards the mosque in a YouTube video. The person was not sporting a beard or moustache. As he entered the mosque, firing.

A large number of people were offering namaz at the mosque Al Noor located in central Christchurch when they were attacked.

In another suburb of Linwood, another mosque was attacked.

A Palestinian man in the mosque told that he saw a bullet pierced in the head of a person. He said, “I heard the sound of three bullets. They shot again after 10 seconds. The attacker probably had an automatic weapon because no one can press the trigger so fast.”

Another eyewitness reading prayers at the Dean Avenue mosque at the time of the attack said that he saw his wife’s dead body lying on the sidewalk. “People were running. Some people were drenched in blood.”

Another person said he saw children being shot at. “There were bodies all around me.”
One eyewitness said on Radio New Zealand that he heard the firing and saw four people lying on the ground and “blood everywhere”.

According to unconfirmed reports, the assailants were dressed in Army fatigues.
New Zealand Police response

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, “Four people have been detained. Three of them are men and one is a woman.”

He said that IEDs used in the vehicles of the attackers have been found. The army has disabled them.

Meanwhile, the police have lifted the lockdown of the city’s schools. There was a ban on going inside or out of any of the schools. After the lockdown, nervous parents reached school to pick up their children.

In a statement, the New Zealand Police said,

Meanwhile, the police have warned against sharing videos of the firing gunmen on social media. In fact, in a video that is available online, a man holding a gun and moving towards the affected mosque appears in the footage, shooting a video simultaneously.

The police tweeted,

Police Commissioner Bush said that due to the firing, all the schools in the city have been taken into the security circle. He said, “The police appeal to people living in central Christchurch to stay away from the streets.”

People have been ordered not to venture in or out of buildings of the city, including local offices and the central library.

The city council has started a helpline number for parents looking for their children who had come to join a climate change rally organised nearby.

The Facebook and Twitter accounts that posted the video have been suspended.
Rugby player Sony Bill Williams shared a passionate video from the incident and said, “I heard this news right now. I can not say in words what I am feeling at this time.”

The player went on to write, “Insha’Allah, all who died today are fortunate to be blessed.”
Williams’ Twitter handle has been suspended.

NZ PM reacts

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is shocked. She said she was not able to confirm the number of the dead. The situation is not yet fully clear. She told reporters, “It is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

The PM tweeted,

When the attack took place in the mosques in the afternoon, crowds had gathered there for prayers.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, “The situation is constantly changing and we are working to confirm the facts. We can confirm that many people have died.”

Bangladesh match cancelled

The Bangladesh cricket team had just reached one of the mosques at the time of the incident. Their spokesperson said that no player was hurt.

He said, “They are safe, but they are in shock. We have asked the team to stay inside the hotel.”

He said that the entire team was brought to the mosque by bus. When the firing took place, the team was about to enter the mosque.

The spokesman said that the Bangladesh Cricket Board was in touch with New Zealand Cricket authorities and after further discussions, a further decision will be taken.

As of now, Bangladesh’s cricket match in Christchurch stands cancelled. This was supposed to be New Zealand’s third and final Test match in the bilateral series.

The Bangladesh team is putting up at the Hegel Oval hotel. Entry to and exit from the building is restricted.

Opener Tamim Iqbal tweeted that seeing the attackers firing was a “scary experience”. He said,