CHRISTCHURCH: A “right-wing terrorist” armed with semi-automatic weapons rampaged through two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch during afternoon prayers on Friday, killing 49 worshippers and wounding dozens more.
The attack, thought to be the deadliest against Muslims in the West in modern times, was dubbed as ‘terrorism’ by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as she guided a shocked nation on one of its “darkest days”.
The dead were said to include women and children. Around 48 people were treated for gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital, including young children, with injuries ranging from critical to minor.
Police have taken three people into custody; multiple explosives were found and defused.
The man charged with murder was identified as 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant
The Masjid al Noor was filled with worshippers, including members of the Bangladesh cricket team.
An eyewitness said that he was praying in the Deans Ave mosque when he heard shooting and saw his wife lying dead on the footpath outside when he fled.
Another man said he saw children being shot. “There were bodies all over me,” he said. An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with “blood everywhere”.