Dozens are dead following a shooting at a mosque in the NZ city. The prime minister called it ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’.
This report is being updated to reflect developments
- Fatalities confirmed by Police
- Prime minister condemns ‘unprecedented act of violence’
- “Risk environment remains extremely high”, warn Police
- One person in custody but Christchurch residents urged to remain indoors
- Schools, hospitals and council buildings in the city in lockdown until further notice
- Mosques nationwide advised to shut doors until further notice
The Spinoff has established that in an online post on a forum separate from Facebook, left minutes before the attack on a mosque near Hagley Park began, a man said it was time to “stop shitposting” and “carry out an attack against the invaders”.
The man begins by saying, “let’s get this party started”. In a separate “manifesto” posted online, the man describes himself as a “white man” in his late 20s, born in Australia. The document contains dozens of pages filled with violent, racist language.
The Spinoff has decided not to name the man or the site.
Some media outlets have published portions of the live-streamed video footage. At 4.50pm, NZ Police tweeted that they were trying to have any footage removed and urged people not to share it:
Police have confirmed numerous fatalities, and that the situation remains active.
An eyewitness inside the mosque told RNZ he heard shots fired and “there was blood everywhere”. Another eyewitness told RNZ a man wearing a helmet and glasses and a military style jacket opened fire inside the mosque. He said a woman and child were among the injured and the offender had an automatic weapon.
In a statement issued at 4pm, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said that one person was in custody. “However Police believe there may be other offenders.”
The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, called it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
She said: “Clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence … Please be assured that Police are actively monitoring the situation.”
She said it was “an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are … The people who were the subject of this attack, this is their home, they should be safe here.”
Commissioner Bush said: “This is an evolving incident, and we are working to confirm the facts, however we can confirm there have been a number of fatalities.”
He said police are doing all they can to resolve the incident, and urged people to stay vigilant and report and suspicious behaviour.
Extra support is being brought into Christchurch from other parts of the country.
Commissioner Bush also asked mosques nationwide to shut their doors, and asked people in the area to refrain from visiting mosques until further notice.
Facebook has been approached for comment.
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen people hurting themselves and others on Facebook — either live or in video posted later,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post at the time.Following a number of incidents in which violent murders and other graphic content were broadcast on Facebook Live, in May 2017 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would increase the size of its staff that reviewed flagged content by 66%, adding 3000 people to its 4500-strong community operations team around the world.
“If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner — whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down.”
A shooting at a mosque in the NZ city, which is reported to have left several people dead, was livestreamed online. Note: this is the original report published at 3.25pm on March 15 2019. It was updated through the day to incorporate developments and responses, including from Facebook. The final
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