Witnesses described seeing bodies and “blood everywhere” following the attack at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1.45pm.
Police have arrested an Australian citizen – a 28-year-old man – and another three people, following a second shooting at another mosque in the Christchurch suburbs.
Brenton Tarrant, named as the suspect in Australian media, appeared to have live-streamed the attack in Christchurch and outlined his anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto posted online.
A search of a property in Dunedin, around 200 miles to the south, was carried out by police.
Videos and documents posted online appear to suggest that the shooter live-streamed his attack on Facebook and prepared an anti-immigrant “manifesto” prior to the shooting.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has raised New Zealand’s national security threat level from low to high.
Follow the latest developments in our live blog below.
Barack Obama has sent his condolences to the people of New Zealand.
“We grieve with you and the Muslim community,” he said, on Twitter.
“All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms.”
More details are emerging about the victims at the centre of the terrorist attack.
Several of those wounded or killed appear to be from south Asia or the Middle East.
Malaysia says two of its citizens have been hospitalised, and the Saudi Embassy in Wellington says two Saudis were wounded.
Two Indonesians, a father and son, were also among those shot and wounded.
Shafiqur Rahman Bhuiyan, Bangladesh’s honorary consul in Auckland, has said that three Bangladeshis were among those killed in the attack. Four or five others were wounded, including two people who remain in critical condition.
Two Jordanians were also among those killed and four Pakistani citizens have been wounded, while five are still missing.
“By showing the video taken by Brenton Tarrant of his bloody assault – even if edited to exclude the worst elements – some parts of the media in this country and elsewhere have done precisely as he would have wished,” argues Will Gore.
Read more here:
Theresa May has voiced her support for the victims of the attack.
“I have been in contact this morning with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to express the UK’s deepest condolences at the horrifying terrorist attack,” she says, in a video posted this afternoon on her Twitter account.
“There can be no place in our societies for the vile ideology that drives and incites hatred and fear.”
The White House has rejected any link between the attack and Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
“It’s outrageous to even make that connection between this deranged individual that committed this evil crime to the president who has repeatedly condemned bigotry, racism and made it very clear that this is a terrorist attack,” Mercedes Schlapp, Mr Trump’s director of strategic communications, said.
“We are there to support and stand with the people of New Zealand.”
One of the attackers referenced the US president in his manifesto, calling him “a symbol of renewed white identity”.
There is a police presence outside the East London Mosque with officers deployed to provide reassurance and advice on protective security.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has said urgent work is needed to tackle Islamophobia around the world
Residents of the ‘garden city’ react with shock and disbelief, but vow to protect Muslim compatriot. Here’s our report from Christchurch:
Some more details about the self-proclaimed racist who is believed to have attacked a New Zealand mosque during Friday prayers.
– He used rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti and listened to a song glorifying a Bosnian Serb war criminal, Associated Press reports.
– At least two rifles used in the shooting bore references to Ebba Akerlund, an 11-year-old girl killed in an April 2017 truck-ramming attack in Stockholm by Rakhmat Akilov, a 39-year-old Uzbek man.
– The number 14 is also seen on the gunman’s rifles. It may refer to “14 Words”, which according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre is a white supremacist slogan linked to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”.
Donald Trump tweeted a link to Breitbart, a far-right website that peddles xenophobia and extremist ideologies, as the New Zealand massacre was underway. Full story here:
Speaking in east London, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said there was a “responsibility on all of us to be very careful in the language we use and the messages we amplify”.
He added: “There are some people in our city, in our country, who fan the flames of hatred.
“There are some people who demonise and dehumanise people because of the faith they follow.
“There are some people who, rather than addressing people’s fears, play on them.”
Filippo Grandi, commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the attack came at a time of “growing hostility towards diversity”.
“The humanity the authorities and people of New Zealand have shown in their response is truly laudable.
“My colleagues and I at UNHCR stand by New Zealand – a country which has generously given refuge to people fleeing conflict and persecution, and whose citizens warmly welcomed them into their towns and cities.”
see post at 12.31) that rampant Islamophobia in the West was to blame for the murder of Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan echoed those sentiments, tweeting: “I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim.”
A fundraiser for the victims of the shooting has raised more than 380,000 New Zealand dollars (£197,000) within hours of the tragedy.
Created by New Zealand charity Victim Support, the appeal had over 6,000 donors at 2am local time, after a press release was issued at around 9:40pm the previous night.
“All donations received through the fund will be ring-fenced to provide resources and support to those affected by this horrific event.
“Victim Support stands with everyone affected and with all communities in New Zealand today.”
Amnesty International’s Secretary General called the shootings “one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history”.
Kumi Naidoo said: “The attackers who unleashed their deadly hatred and racism upon women, men, and children as they took part in Friday prayers has thrown us all into shock and grief.
“This is also a moment of reckoning for leaders across the world who have encouraged or turned a blind eye to the scourge of Islamophobia.
“The politics of demonisation has today cost 49 people their lives. Reports that the attackers followed a white supremacist manifesto must galvanise world leaders to start standing against this hate-filled ideology.”
Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the existence of footage from the attack on social media hours later showed the big sites “haven’t got a grip” on the problem.
“For the sick video live-streamed by the perpetrator still to be available on YouTube and Facebook hours later is shocking,” she said.
“Social media companies have an obligation to remove this kind of content from their platforms immediately, and they are big enough and rich enough to work out how to do it. They have been warned repeatedly about this kind of problem.
“They have developed new systems to start dealing with Islamist extremism but they are completely failing to take seriously far right extremism and terrorism.
“Time and time again social media companies have been too slow to act and it is not good enough.”
Meanwhile, here in London, the government has announced that flags on Downing Street and Foreign Office Buildings will be flown at half mast on Friday as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives and all others that were affected by the attacks in New Zealand.
It is now the middle of the night in New Zealand (they are 13 hours ahead of the UK – GMT), and police updates have slowed down, so here is a description of how the attack unfolded, as provided by the Reuters news agency:
The online footage, which appeared to have been captured on a camera strapped to a gunman’s head, showed him driving as music played in his vehicle. After parking, he took two guns and walked a short distance to the mosque where he opened fire.
Over the course of five minutes, he repeatedly shot worshippers, leaving more than a dozen bodies in one room alone. He returned to the car during that period to change guns, and went back to the mosque to shoot anyone showing signs of life.
One man, with blood still on his shirt, said in a television interview that he hid from a gunman under a bench and prayed that he would run out of bullets.
“I was just praying to God and hoping our God, please, let this guy stop” Mahmood Nazeer told TVNZ.
“The firing went on and on. One person with us had a bullet in her arm. When the firing stopped, I looked over the fence, there was one guy, changing his gun.”
The video shows the gunman then driving off at high speed and firing from his car. Another video, taken by someone else, showed police apprehending a gunman on a pavement by a road.
Police said improvised explosive devices were found. The gunman’s video had shown red petrol canisters in the back of his car, along with weapons.
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