Shots fired near Christchurch, New Zealand mosque, reports

By – The Washington Times – Updated: 10:33 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, 2019

A man wearing a helmet, glasses and a military jacket reportedly fired on hundreds of worshippers at Friday prayers at a mosque in , .

New Zealand Radio reported, citing a childcare center manager, that at least 30 people were injured or killed.

Witness Len Peneha told the Associated Press that a man dressed in black entered the Masjid Al Noor mosque and then left before police arrived. Police confirmed Friday afternoon New Zealand time that the gunman was at large.

Mr. Peneha said he then went into the mosque to try to help and “saw dead people everywhere.”

Another eyewitness told New Zealand Radio that an “automatic weapon’ was used and a woman and child were among the at least 4 people he saw downed.

“There was blood everywhere,” that witness said.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, the gunman is believed to be an Australian who filmed the attack and wrote “a 37-page manifesto declaring his intentions.”

“it is a terrorist attack,” the man reportedly wrote.

The Herald also reported that a second gunman has been seen near Linwood Masjid mosque, but there were no reports of an attack there.

Elsewhere in Christchurch on Friday, police told a Guardian reporter less than two miles from  Masjid Al Noor mosque that there was a car bomb.

“The bomb is located inside a beige Subaru that has crashed on Strickland Street, about 3km from the Al Noor Mosque where the shooting took place,” the Guardian reported.

“You’re not safe here, there’s a bomb in that car,” a senior police officer told reporter Eleanor Ainge Roy.

Idris Khairuddin, a 14-year-old student at Hillmorton High School, said he knew about six people who were shot. one of them his uncle Tamizi.

“My uncle got shot in his backside, I am just praying it is not too serious,” he told the Herald.

The gunfire began as prayers were about to start, Mr. Khairuddin said.

“At first I thought it was just like construction work or something, then people were all running and screaming,” he said. “The gun shots sounded like pop, pop, pop … I heard over 50.”

According to Television New Zealand, about 20 emergency ambulances were at the scene.

The gunman was still active, NZ Police Commissioner Mike Bush told reporters. All schools had been locked down and a second mosque in the city had been evacuated.

“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high,” Mr. Bush said in a statement.

Amy Adams, a member of Parliament from , wrote on Twitter that she was “horrified to hear of mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred.”

The national cricket team of Bangladesh was in for a match against starting Saturday and was at the mosque, which is in the same neighborhood, a short walk from the stadium.

Mohammad Isam, a reporter for , posted a video of several team members outside, apparently unharmed and leaving the mosque area.

“They were just outside the mosque about to get off from the bus and go into the mosque when they heard shooting and a lot of people running out and they saw someone wounded in front of them,” Mr. Isam told the New Zealand Herald.

Mr. Isam, a Bangladeshi himself, said the players are all safe but want to leave .

“I don’t they’re in a mental state to play cricket at all. I think they want to go back home as soon as possible. I’m speaking from experience, I’m speaking from what I’ve heard,” he said.

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