The attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed at least 49 people on Friday, police said. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern classified the attack as an act of terrorism. “It’s clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack,” she said on Friday. 48 people with gunshot wounds are currently being treated in different hospitals, the health authorities of Christchurch said.
The attacks occurred during Friday prayers in the Masjid al-Noor Mosque in downtown Christchurch and in a mosque in the suburb of Linwood. Eyewitnesses reported that the victims had been hit at close range. Among the dead are probably also women and children. The exact course of the attack was still unclear even after hours.
Police chief Mike Bush said at a press conference in Wellington that four people had been arrested, and one of them was probably not related to the attack. Another suspect who is in his late twenties is accused of murder. He should already be presented to a judge this Saturday. The remaining two suspects needed to be clear on what to do with the incident. They were in possession of firearms.
The police called the population to vigilance. The danger is not over, said Bush at a press conference in Wellington. People should stay home if possible.
According to Prime Minister Ardern, the detainees have extremist views. Nationwide, the highest level of security has been proclaimed. The attack was “well prepared”. The alleged attackers were not on terrorist lists, she said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had previously spoken of an act of terrorism. “We strongly condemn this attack, committed by a right-wing extremist violent terrorist,” said Morrison. An Australian was involved.
On the Internet circulated a supposedly live-filmed video of the deed and various messages that should also come from the alleged perpetrator. In it, the man claimed to be a 28-year-old Australian. At first, it was not possible to reliably verify this.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attacks in the strongest terms. The “terrorist attack” was directed against praying believers. “I curse those who committed it,” Erdogan explained. Russian President Vladimir Putin also commented on the act. “The attack on peaceful citizens who have gathered for prayer shakes in its cruelty and cynicism,” he said, according to a message from the Kremlin.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Twitter, she was deeply shaken. “I mourn with the New Zealanders for their fellow citizens who peacefully invaded their mosques and were murdered for racist hatred. We stand side by side against such terrorism. “Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) condemned the attacks and described them on Twitter as an” attack on all of us “.