Dozens killed in Christchurch mosque attack
New Zealand police have warned all mosques countrywide to shut their doors due to a "very serious and tragic incident involving an active shooter."
"One person is in custody, however, police believe there may be other offenders," the police said on Twitter.
Police will be holding a press conference at 5 p.m. local time on Friday afternoon (12 p.m. ET).
US ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown issued a statement in the wake of the multiple attacks on Christchurch mosques on Friday.
"We’re heartbroken over the events in Christchurch today. We stand with our Kiwi friends and neighbors and our prayers are with you. Kia kaha," he said.
There are reports the mosque shooting may have been broadcast live on social media while it was taking place.
Police told CNN they are "aware" of the video but were unable to confirm or deny its veracity.
The disturbing video which has not been verified by CNN, purportedly shows a gunman walking into the mosque and opening fire.
CNN is choosing not to publish additional information regarding the video until more details are available.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held a press conference into the shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, describing it as "one of New Zealand's darkest days."
"What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence," she said.
Ardern said the attacker has "no place in New Zealand."
"For now my thoughts and I'm sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders are with those who have been affected their families," she said.
New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush said in a Facebook video there had been "multiple fatalities, as far as we know, at two locations."
He named the two locations as mosques in Christchurch, but added he didn't know if there were other areas under threat.
"We are dealing with a very serious and tragic series of events," he said. "They involve an active shooter, they involve multiple fatalities."
Bush said they had one person in custody but didn't know if there were other people involved.
"I want to ask anyone that was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand today not to go, to close your doors, until you hear from us again," he said.
Mohan Ibn Ibrahim told CNN he was inside the mosque when the shooting began and that he heard the gunman "continuously shooting for ten to 15 minutes."
He said the shooting began at about 1:40 p.m. local time when he heard "gunfire sound coming from the back side."
"There is a barricade in the middle so if somebody gets inside by using the main door they have to come inside and walk maybe one minute."
"When I heard that there is a shooting -- the sound whats coming. I thought maybe it was an electrical circuit or something. But then it continuously happened."
Ibrahim said people began running out of the mosque and he "had to jump out of the wall" to escape.
"And we are still hearing the sound of the gun, continuously shooting for ten to 15 minutes," he said.
"I came to the street I saw one person got shot on his chest," he said, adding that the ambulance and police then arrived on the scene.
Ibrahim said he had heard reports from a friend that a gunman had opened fire at another mosque in the area.
"They told me that five people died over there in that mosque, and I have seen with my own eyes, three people dead on the street," he said.
"I could not contact two of my friends who are in the mosque as well."
"Thats what I saw. Lots of police and ambulance have come, and they did not allow us to go in the mosque or to get close to it," he said.
There are reports of multiple casualties after a shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, here is what we know so far:
- Police say they are still responding to a "serious and evolving" incident in the city after reports of shots being fired at about 1.40 p.m. local time.
- Eyewitnesses from the scene report a mass shooting at a Christchurch mosque on Deans Avenue, including an unspecified number of dead and injured.
- Authorities have yet to confirm the number of dead or injured.
- One mosque attendee told CNN the gunman fired for "10 to 15 minutes" taking aim at more than 200 people.
- Video from outside Christchurch hospitals shows ambulances bringing multiple injured back from the scene.
- The city is currently on lockdown, with authorities advising residents to stay inside. Christchurch City Council tweeted that it was locking down a "number of central city buildings, including the Civic Offices and Central Library."
- The Bangladesh Cricket team, who were visiting the city at the time of the alleged attack were not inside the mosque, despite their tourbus being pictured close to the scene.
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to address the press shortly on the incident, according to New Zealand's TVNZ.
New Zealand police have yet to confirm the details of the incident but said the risk remains "extremely high."
"Police recommend that residents across Christchurch remain off the streets and indoors until further notice. Christchurch schools will be locked down until further notice," the statement said.
According to New Zealand's TVNZ, police are being sent to all mosques in Christchurch as a precaution.
Police have yet to confirm the details but eyewitnesses are saying there has been a serious mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city.
Mohan Ibn Ibrahim told CNN he was inside the mosque when the shooting began.
"There were more than 200 people inside. The gunman came from the backside. Gunshots went on for a long time. We had to jump the wall to escape," he said.
He told CNN that he saw several bodies lying on the ground in the mosque after the shooting had begun.