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BREAKING: Christchurch under siege as gunmen kill multiple people

Section
News,
Publish Date
Friday, 15 March 2019, 3:04PM
Photo / Jacob Savage
Photo / Jacob Savage

KEY POINTS:

  • Dozens feared killed as at least two gunmen open fire at two central Christchurch mosques
  • City in lockdown, with reports of a third shooting scene and a car bomb in Strickland St
  • One gunman, believed to be Australian, filmed as he shot victims in the mosque - and wrote a 37-page manifesto declaring his intentions
  • Teen witness: "I just ran as fast as I could, over the fence to Hagley Park, I didn't stop. The gunshots sounded like pop, pop, pop...I heard over 50."

For ongoing live coverage listen to Newstalk ZB.

Gunmen have opened fire at mosques in Christchurch, with dozens feared killed and police urging residents to stay indoors.

A body has been seen lying near Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch and a second gunman has been seen near Linwood Masjid mosque. One of the gunmen filmed as he shot victims.

One of the gunmen is believed to be an Australian who has written a 37-page manifesto declaring his intentions.

In it, he says "it is a terrorist attack."

There are reports of a third active shooting unfolding outside Christchurch Hospital.

The Guardian is reporting police as saying there is a bomb on Strickland Street in Christchurch.

"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.

A Christchurch Star reporter saw a dead body lying close at Palazzo Lane near Al Noor Mosque.

The body has been covered with clothing.


Police hold a suspect down on the ground. Photo / Kurt Bayer

A witness has seen a child lying in the middle of Deans Ave and another man has told the Herald his relative was shot inside the mosque.

There has been reports of up to six casualties.

A man told Stuff he was praying in the mosque when he heard the shooting started.

He managed to escape, but outside saw his wife lying dead on the footpath.

"My wife is dead," he said, wailing.

Another man said he saw children being shot.

"I still have friends inside"

Mohan Ibrahim described to the Herald running for his life to escape the gunman. He was one of 200 people in Christchurch's Masjid Al Noor mosque when he heard shots being fired.

"At first we thought it was an electric shock but then all these people started running."

He said there had been lots of people killed and many injured.

"I still have friends inside.

"I have been calling my friends but there are many I haven't heard from. I am scared for my friends lives."

He said there had been lots of people killed and many injured.

A man who took in people who escaped from the mosque has shared their description of the gunman.

He was white, aged in his 30s or 40s and wearing a uniform, but he had not been able to ascertain what the uniform was, Oakford Close resident Robert Weatherhead said.

"[They said] 'he had a lot of magazines strapped to his legs'," Weatherhead said.

A man who was in Al Noor Mosque during a shooting says it was absolutely full for noon prayers. He believed many have been killed.

A woman told the Christchurch Star she lay in her car near the mosque as four to five men came running towards her.

She was unsure if they were gunmen.

Moments earlier she heard what she thought was gunfire.

"When the noise got louder I saw four or five men running. I put my seat down and lay down so they wouldn't see me.

"I didn't think I'd live to see this happening in my country," she said.


Police at the shooting in Christchurch. Photo / Supplied

Second shooting at mosque in Linwood

A second shooting happened at a mosque in the Linwood area of the city.

One Friday prayer goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.

Witnesses said they heard multiple gunshots around 1.45pm.

A well known Muslim local chased the shooters and fired two shots at them as they sped off.

He was heard telling police officers he was firing in "self defence".

"They were in a silver Subaru," he told police.

Mark Nichols, manager of Premium Tyres and Auto in Linwood, said he a gunman ran past his shop around 45 minutes ago.

He heard five gunshots, and he believed the activity was centred around the nearby Linwood Masjid mosque.

He saw two injured people carried on stretchers past his shop. Both appeared to be alive.

"I seen a guy with a gun running up the road. He's been firing about five shots, I think we heard," Nichols said.

"It might have been a shotgun. I didn't get a good luck at it, I just cleared off.

"Apparently there have been people in the mosque shot, and a police officer's been shot too.

"It's not very good, we're in shutdown mode now. It's all cordoned off."

A witness told the Herald he had seen a body in a carpark at Papanui High School.

Papanui High School, which is north of where both incidents occurred, is in lockdown.

The receptionist said staff were hiding under their desks, and she could not comment on any activity nearby.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said: "A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter.

"Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment 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.

"Police thanks the public for their cooperation and will provide further updates to keep residents informed."

Eye witnesses say they've seen about six people taken into Christchurch Hospital, two with serious injuries.

Benjamin Jellie said he ran outside when he heard gunshots.

"I saw people jumping over the back fence of the mosque into Oakward Close. I heard at least 20 [gunshots]."

"I heard about eight at the start and then it went quiet for about 30 seconds or a minute and then it started again. I heard about eight more and then there was another minute and another eight," Jellie said.

"Those coming over the fence, all adults and including at least three men, were screaming and crying."

He believed the injured were all conscious.

The injured were very quiet, Jellie said.

The Bangladesh cricket team was at the mosque for Friday prayer when the shooting started.

The team is in Christchurch to play New Zealand in the third cricket test starting tomorrow.

Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach of the Bangladesh cricket team said: "The players are shaken up but fine. I spoke to one of them shortly after [the incident]. They didn't see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground [Hagley Oval] and just started running.

"The coaching staff were all at the hotel. The players just started running when they heard the shots. I don't know how many [shots] there were. This happened at about 1.45pm."


Armed police can be seen on central Christchurch streets. Photo / Jacob Savage

A taxi driver in Deans Ave told Newstalk ZB that a jogger in the park said shots had been fired inside the mosque.

"Police and ambulance are coming from every direction".

Deans Ave has been closed between Moorhouse Avenue and Riccarton Road. Road users are advised to avoid the area.

In Cathedral Square, at the climate protest a police officer asked for everyone to make their way home immediately.

The police officer said there had been an incident and students should go straight home.


A person shared this post to a Christchurch parents Facebook page. Photo / Facebook

Jacob Savage posted to Facebook: "Stay away from Gloucester Street and Linwood Avenue is there a police everywhere on the corner with guns and all"

The public should not attend Christchurch Hospital unless it's an emergency, a Canterbury DHb spokeswoman said.

"All appointments have been cancelled this afternoon, and no staff or patients are to enter or leave the building."

Police confirmed at 2.41pm that all Christchurch schools had been placed into lockdown.

St Margaret's College told parents not to contact the school as "the phones are currently closed".

"All students are safe and those who are on the Climate Strike have been taken to a safe area by the staff accompanying them."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her events in New Plymouth this afternoon.

Ardern has been in New Plymouth for various announcements and a school visit. She had been due to to open the Womad music festival this evening.

HEAD TO THE NZHERALD FOR LIVE UPDATES.

 

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.

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