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UPDATE 3/15/19: At least 49 people have now been reported as dead following the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Per the Associated Press, one man has been arrested and charged with murder for the attacks. He's been described as being "in his late 20s." Additionally, local police said Friday that two additional armed suspects were also in custody though their possible involvement with the attacks has not been determined.
"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement. A manifesto in which the charged suspect referred to himself as a racist and took responsibility for the attack has reportedly been discovered. In the documents, he reportedly refers to immigrants as "invaders" and detailed a "white supremacist motivation" behind the attacks.
YouTube has also released a statement in light of the sharing of graphic footage from the attacks. Circulation of the footage has been a persistent problem across all social media platforms, with local law enforcement urging the public not to engage in its distribution. The alleged terrorist is believed to have livestreamed video himself.
In a statement via press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House condemned the "vicious act of hate." In line with his previous statements in light of global tragedies, Trump also tweeted "best wishes" to the people of New Zealand before returning to Mueller topics.
See original post from 3/14/19 below.
New Zealand officials have urged Christchurch residents to remain in doors following reports of deadly mass shootings at two separate mosques.
According to the Guardian, a gunman entered the Masjid Al Noor Mosque and opened fire at around 1:40 p.m. local time Friday. It has been reported that about 300 people were inside the place of worship for afternoon prayers. Among those inside the mosque were players for the Bangladesh cricket team, who managed to escape unharmed.
New Zealand Police described the situation as "critical," but did not provide exact details about injuries or possible fatalities; however, authorities did confirm "multiple" people were killed.
The other shooting occurred at Linwood Masjid.
I'm horrified by the reports I’m following of the serious shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. The situation is still unfolding but our thoughts and prayers are with our Kiwi cousins.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 15, 2019
Law enforcement confirmed that all Christchurch schools have been placed on lockdown.
The Guardian spoke to a witness who was inside the Masjid Al Noor Mosque during the shooting. The man, who uses a wheelchair, described what he saw and heard during the attack.
"It was very peaceful, calm and quiet, as it is when the sermon starts, you could hear a pin drop," he said. "Then suddenly the shooting started [...] I saw about 20 plus people, some were dead, some were screaming. On the left there were 10 plus people, some were dead."
New Zealand Prime Miniser Jacinda Ardern addressed the tragedy in a brief speech.
"Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home," she said. "They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was."
During a press conference, New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush said that multiple IEDs were attached to cars. "This speaks to the seriousness of what occurred," Bush said.
Bush also confirmed that four people are in custody, three men and one woman.
A spokesperson for Christchurch Hospital confirmed multiple shooting victims were being treated at the facility, but could not provide the exact number of patients.
This post will be updated.