A quick round up of what’s happened so far in Christchurch:
- Forty-nine people have been killed and at least 20 wounded in shootings at two mosques
- The attack happened at a time when people were gathered for Friday prayers and was the deadliest in the nation’s history
- A man in his late 20s was charged with murder and will appear in court on Saturday morning
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this was a terrorist attack and one of New Zealand’s “darkest days”
- Security has been stepped up around mosques in several cities around the world
- The US released a statement condemning the acts of violence but did not call this a terrorist act.
What Happened – Christchurch mourns
Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 49 dead Friday, with one gunman — identified as an Australian extremist — apparently live streaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city.
In what appeared to be the worst attack against Muslims in a western country, witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children believed to be among those killed.
A segment of the video that #Facebook shared worldwide – WatX News has cut the video for being too graphic – go to https://t.co/B9GzRdIWak for the latest #NewZealandShootings pic.twitter.com/uODXOF0Ygx
— WTX News (@WtxNews) March 15, 2019
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying it marked “one of New Zealand´s darkest days”.
“From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned,” she said, adding that in addition to the dead another 20 people were seriously injured.
“We have lifted our threat level from low to high,” Ardern said. “We have tightened our response from our agencies at the border, at the airports. In fact, at every level, we have a heightened response.”
The gunman at one mosque was an Australian-born citizen, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Sydney, describing him as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.
New Zealand’s deputy prime minister says the attack marks an end of an “age of innocence” for his country and its “strict” gun control laws will “all be open for review”.
“The reality is that we’ve never known that sort of level of terror in a place like Christchurch of all places, or anywhere in New Zealand for that matter.”
Asked what action he thinks should be taken, he says: “It would be naive to think that we’ll not be looking very hard at how it is that they acquired these automatic weapons.”
As well as reviewing the country’s gun control laws, he says spending on security will have to increase and cross-country engagement on terrorism should be stepped up.
Facebook live streamed the Shooting
Facebook allowed the live streaming of the shooting – sharing the distressing images to its 2.7Bn worldwide audience.
A local Muslim man, quoted by local press in New Zealand said he saw children being shot. “There were bodies all over,” he said. Whilst Facebook was live streaming the event for the world to see.
Video and documents circulating online show the shooter had streamed his attack on Facebook Live. Something that the social media giant said it would not allow.
A manifesto had also been posted online on accounts linked to the same Facebook page, suggesting the attack was racially motivated.
A social media account had also posted a number of pictures of a semi-automatic weapon covered in the names of historical figures, many of whom were involved in the killing of Muslims.
My heart is hurting about the news coming out of Christchurch. Sending love & prayers to the effected families❤️😢 pic.twitter.com/7PX9wc56b8
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) March 15, 2019
New Zealand police warned that “extremely distressing footage” existed relating to the deadly shootings, and urged that it not be shared.
“Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online,” New Zealand police said in a Twitter post.
“We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.”
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