As many as 49 people were killed and 40 others injured in one of the deadliest mass shooting in two mosques full of worshippers in New Zealand’s Christchurch on Friday. The gunman, an Australian national, had uploaded a racial manifesto online before going on a rampage and live streaming the entire incident. Besides the accused, three others have been detained.
Here is everything you need to know about the attack:
Where did the shootings take place?
The shooting first took place at Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch. The gunman later opened fire at those present in Linwood mosque, about five kilometres (three miles) from the Al Noor mosque.
What did eyewitnesses say?
According to a witness, Len Peneha, a man dressed in black entered the mosque at around 1.45 pm. Seconds later, he heard dozens of shots and saw people running out of the mosque. The gunman then ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway and fled.
“I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” Peneha told the Associated Press. “I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous,” he added.
Who is the gunman?
The gunman was later identified as Brenton Tarrant, an Australian national, who had arrived in the country only to plan and train for the attack. According to AP, the accused was not a member of any organisation but had donated to and interacted with many nationalist groups. He, however, acted alone and not on the instructions of any other group.
Racial manifesto uploaded online
Prior to the incident, Tarrant had uploaded a racial document online, AFP reported. The 74-page manifesto claimed that the European population was being displaced in their homelands by immigrant groups with higher birth rates. The gunman said the “key points in his radicalisation were the defeat of the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen in 2017 elections, and the death of 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund in the 2017 Stockholm truck attack”.
Is the video of the incident available online?
In the video live-streamed by the gunman, according to the news agency, a Caucasian man with short hair was seen driving to the mosque and entering a building before opening fire at worshippers. The accused can be seen changing cartridges three times in just under two minutes. YouTube, however, later pulled down the video. The Facebook account and the Twitter handle of the alleged shooter were also suspended.
What happened after the attack?
The police commissioner warned anybody who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand to stay put.
What did Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern say?
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as a “terror attack.” “We believe that 40 people have lost their lives in this act of extreme violence. It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she had said. But the death toll later increased to 49.