Dozens killed in Christchurch mosque attack

By Ben Westcott, Jenni Marsh, Helen Regan, Meg Wagner, Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha, Aimee Lewis, Rob Picheta and Harmeet Kaur, CNN
0234 GMT (1034 HKT) March 17, 2019
11:16 p.m. ET, March 14, 2019

NZ police: Multiple fatalities at two mosques in Christchurch

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.

11:09 p.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Eyewitness describes shooting at mosque

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.

 

11:25 p.m. ET, March 14, 2019

What we know so far about Christchurch incident

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.

11:29 p.m. ET, March 14, 2019

New Zealand police: "Serious and evolving situation"

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.

10:38 p.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Reports of mass shooting at Christchurch mosque

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.

10:28 p.m. ET, March 14, 2019

Christchurch in lockdown amid reports of ongoing 'firearms incident'

Breaking news out of New Zealand amid reports of a "serious ongoing firearms incident" in the city of Christchurch.

Police said that armed police have been deployed after receiving reports of shots fired in the city center at 1:40 p.m. local time.

Canterbury Police NZ tweeted: "We have a critical incident in Deans Avenue Christchurch. Please avoid the area. We will give more in the near future."

More details to come