Forty-nine people have been killed and at least 20 wounded in the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the gunman, who had Australian citizenship, as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist.
It was not immediately clear how many gunmen there were. The Australian suspect is believed to have published a manifesto outlining his intentions, in which he espoused far right and anti-immigrant ideology.
He also appeared to have livestreamed on Facebook from a head-mounted camera as he shot victims in a mosque. Police called on the public not to share the “extremely distressing” footage online.
Facebook said it had removed the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage.
The sequence of events remains unclear and has mostly come via eyewitness reports to local media.
Two other men and one woman were detained in the area. Police have established that one was not involved.
Speaking at a press conference, New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush said police were working to determine whether the other two were involved in the incident.
“We have recovered a number of firearms from the scenes of both incidents,” Mr. Bush said.
The first report of an attack came from the Al Noor mosque, located in central Christchurch. Witnesses told local media they ran for their lives, and saw people bleeding on the ground outside the building.
Police Commissioner Bush confirmed that “multiple fatalities” were recorded at two locations.
Police Commissioner Bush said: “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.”
A second mosque in the suburb of Linwood was evacuated, but there were fewer details from that site. Police also defused “a number of IEDs (explosive devices) attached to vehicles”, Mr Bush said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it one of New Zealand’s “darkest days”. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she said.
A lockdown on all schools in Christchurch was lifted, and parents told could collect their children.