New Zealand mosque shootings kill 49

Forty-nine people are believed to have been killed in shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

The country's prime minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the total and said at least 20 others had been seriously injured.

New Zealand Police had earlier said that four people – three men and one woman – were in custody in relation to the attacks.

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison said one of those arrested was an Australian citizen.

A number of improvised explosive devices found on vehicles after the shootings were defused by police.

Ms Ardern said the offender is in custody, adding: "So I can give that assurance, he has been apprehended. He is also accompanied by two other associates."

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Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder, making a sign to the camera during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand March 16, 2019. Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald/Pool via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - PICTURE PIXELATED AT SOURCE. SUSPECT FACE MUST BE PIXELATED. ONLY HIS FACE. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is lead into the dock for his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand March 16, 2019. Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald/Pool via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - PICTURE PIXELATED AT SOURCE. SUSPECT FACE MUST BE PIXELATED. ONLY HIS FACE.
People gather at a vigil to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, at Washington Square Park in Manhattan, in New York City, New York, U.S. March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
Nayab Khan, 22, cries at a vigil to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mark Makela
People taking part in a vigil at the New Zealand War Memorial on Hyde Park Corner following the mosque attacks in Christchurch.
Aahil Ashraf, four, from Birmingham, with his dad Mohamed Ashraf, holds a yellow flower given to him by Christian James Lynch, from Riverside Church, who is handing out flowers to Muslims as they leave Birmingham Central Mosque after the attack on the Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
An armed police officer stands guard next to flowers offered by a resident outside Linwood mosque after Friday's gunmen attacks, in Christchurch, New Zealand March 16, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A women places flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, March 16, 2019, where one of the mass shootings occurred yesterday. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police officers search the area near the Masjid Al Noor mosque, site of one of the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, March 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
KILBIRNIE, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 16: A mourner draws on the pavement outside a Mosque in Kilbirnie, Wellington on March 16, 2019 in Kilbirnie, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead, with more than 40 people injured following attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday afternoon. 41 of the victims were killed at Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue and seven died at Linwood mosque. Another victim died later in Christchurch hospital. Three people are in custody over the mass shootings. One man has been charged with murder. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)
KILBIRNIE, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 16: Mourners gather at a Mosque in Kilbirnie, Wellington on March 16, 2019 in Kilbirnie, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead, with more than 40 people injured following attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday afternoon. 41 of the victims were killed at Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue and seven died at Linwood mosque. Another victim died later in Christchurch hospital. Three people are in custody over the mass shootings. One man has been charged with murder. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)
KILBIRNIE, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 16: Flowers are placed outside a Mosque in Kilbirnie, Wellington on March 16, 2019 in Kilbirnie, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead, with more than 40 people injured following attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday afternoon. 41 of the victims were killed at Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue and seven died at Linwood mosque. Another victim died later in Christchurch hospital. Three people are in custody over the mass shootings. One man has been charged with murder. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 16: Locals lay flowers in tribute to those killed and injured at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead, with more than 40 people injured following attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday afternoon. 41 of the victims were killed at Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue and seven died at the Linwood Mosque. Another victim died later in Christchurch hospital. Three people are in custody over the mass shootings. One man has been charged with murder. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
KILBIRNIE, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 16: An armed police officer stands guard at the Kilbirnie Mosque, Wellington on March 16, 2019 in Kilbirnie, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead, with more than 40 people injured following attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday afternoon. 41 of the victims were killed at Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue and seven died at Linwood mosque. Another victim died later in Christchurch hospital. Three people are in custody over the mass shootings. One man has been charged with murder. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn carries a wreath as he arrives at the New Zealand High Commission in Haymarket, London, in the aftermath of the mosque attacks in Christchurch.
Flowers are seen outside of New Zealand house to honour victims of shooting in New Zealand, in London, Britain March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Jacobs
People take part in a demonstration to protest against the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, following Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkey March 15, 2019. The banners read that: "Say No to Global Terror!". REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Police and ambulance staff help a wounded man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Prime Minister Jacinda Aredrn speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on March 15, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. One person is in custody and police are searching for another gunmen following several shootings at mosques in Christchurch. Police have not confirmed the number of casualties or fatalities. All schools and businesses are in lock down as police continue to search for other gunmen. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
The New Zealand national flag is flown at half-mast on a Parliament building in Wellington on March 15, 2019, after a shooting incident in Christchurch. - Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 49 dead on March 15, with one gunman -- identified as an Australian extremist -- apparently livestreaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Personas observan del otro lado de la calle frente a una mezquita en Christchurch, Nueva Zelanda, el viernes 15 de marzo de 2019. Un testigo asegura que varias personas fueron asesinadas dentro de la mezquita. (AP Foto/Mark Baker)
Police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Many people were killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, a witness said. Police have not yet described the scale of the shooting but urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Ambulances parked outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Many people were killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, a witness said. Police have not yet described the scale of the shooting but urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
People wait outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Many people were killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, a witness said. Police have not yet described the scale of the shooting but urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Policías armados patrullan fuera de una mezquita en el centro de Christchurch, Nueva Zelanda el viernes 15 de marzo de 2019. Un testigo asegura que varias personas fueron asesinadas en un tiroteo dentro de la mezquita en la ciudad neozelandesa de Christchurch. (AP Foto/Mark Baker)
Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A man rests on the ground as he speaks on his mobile phone across the road from mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says a number of people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch; police urge people to stay indoors. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A police officer is seen after reports that several shots had been fired at a mosque, in central Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, 2019, in this still image taken from video. TVNZ/via REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. NEW ZEALAND OUT. AUSTRALIA OUT. Digital: NO USE NEW ZEALAND INTERNET SITES / ANY INTERNET SITE OF ANY NEW ZEALAND OR AUSTRALIA BASED MEDIA ORGANISATIONS OR MOBILE PLATFORMS . For Reuters customers only.
An image grab from TV New Zealand taken on March 15, 2019 shows a victim arriving at a hospital following the mosque shooting in Christchurch. - At least one gunman who targeted crowded mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch killed a number of people, police said, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describing the shooting as 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'. (Photo by TV New Zealand / TV New Zealand / AFP) / New Zealand OUT / XGTY----EDITORS NOTE ----RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE MANDATORY CREDIT ' AFP PHOTO / TV New Zealand / NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS- NO ARCHIVE (Photo credit should read TV NEW ZEALAND/AFP/Getty Images)
In this hand out picture taken by by Pete Marsden a man makes a phone call next to car with shattered windows near the mosque after a firing incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. - A gunman opened fire inside the Masjid al Noor mosque during afternoon prayers, causing multiple fatalities. (Photo by Pete MARSDEN / AFP) / XGTY----EDITORS NOTE ----RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE MANDATORY CREDIT ' AFP PHOTO / PETE MARSDEN / NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS- NO ARCHIVE (Photo credit should read PETE MARSDEN/AFP/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Members of the public react in front of the Masjd Al Noor Mosque as they fear for their relatives on March 15, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. One person is in custody and police are searching for other gunmen after a man entered Al Noor Mosque near Hagley Park with automatic rifles and opened fire. Armed police are at second mosque in suburb of Linwood. The number of casualties and fatalities has yet to be confirmed. Streets near the mosques have been evacuated, and schools and businesses around the city are now in lock down . (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone near a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police escort witnesses away from a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
This picture released by Radio New Zealand shows ambulances rushing towards the mosque after a firing incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. - A gunman opened fire inside the Masjid al Noor mosque during afternoon prayers, causing multiple fatalities. (Photo by - / RADIO NEW ZEALAND / AFP) / New Zealand OUT / XGTY----EDITORS NOTE ----RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE MANDATORY CREDIT ' AFP PHOTO /RADIO NEW ZEALAND / NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS- NO ARCHIVE (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture released by Radio New Zealand shows a police officer cordoning a street near the mosque after a firing incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. - A gunman opened fire inside the Masjid al Noor mosque during afternoon prayers, causing multiple fatalities. (Photo by - / RADIO NEW ZEALAND / AFP) / New Zealand OUT / XGTY----EDITORS NOTE ----RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE MANDATORY CREDIT ' AFP PHOTO /RADIO NEW ZEALAND / NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS- NO ARCHIVE (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
An image grab from TV New Zealand taken on March 15, 2019 shows armed New Zealand special forces arriving outside the mosque following a shooting in Christchurch. - At least one gunman who targeted crowded mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch killed a number of people, police said, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describing the shooting as 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'. (Photo by Laurent FIEVET / TV New Zealand / AFP) / New Zealand OUT / XGTY----EDITORS NOTE ----RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE MANDATORY CREDIT ' AFP PHOTO / TV New Zealand / NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS- NO ARCHIVE (Photo credit should read LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Armed police maintain a presence outside the Masijd Ayesha Mosque in Manurewa on March 15, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. Four people are in custody following shootings at two mosques in Christchurch this afternoon, and the number of fatalities has yet to be confirmed. New Zealanders have been urged to not attend evening prayers today following the attacks. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Four people are in custody after what PM Jacinda Ardern called one of the country's darkest days.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Police officers cordon off the area as they take security measures around the shooting site after gunmen attacked the two mosques and fired multiple times during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. At least 40 people were reportedly killed in twin terror attacks targeting mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, an official said on Friday. Witnesses claim the Al Noor Mosque was targeted by armed assailants and there were up to 200 people inside for Friday Prayers. (Photo by Diederik van Heyningen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Police officers guard the area close to the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. - Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 40 dead on March 15, with one gunman identified as an Australian extremist -- apparently livestreaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city. (Photo by Tessa BURROWS / AFP) (Photo credit should read TESSA BURROWS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: An ambulance carries wounded person to the hospital after gunmen attacked the two mosques and fired multiple times during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. At least nine people were reportedly killed in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, local media reported Friday. (Photo by Diederik van Heyningen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: A helicopter is seen as security measures are taken after gunmen attacked the two mosques and fired multiple times during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. At least nine people were reportedly killed in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, local media reported Friday. (Photo by Diederik van Heyningen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 16: Locals lay flowers in tribute to those killed and injured at Deans Avenue near the Al Noor Mosque on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 49 people are confirmed dead, with more than 40 people injured following attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday afternoon. 41 of the victims were killed at Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue and seven died at the Linwood Mosque. Another victim died later in Christchurch hospital. Three people are in custody over the mass shootings. One man has been charged with murder. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
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When asked about the attackers not being on intelligence agency watchlists, she said it was an indication they "had not acted in a way that warranted it".

Asked about the ages of victims, she said: "I will have been amongst other members of the public who will have seen the footage as the injured were being brought to Christchurch A&E and you certainly can see from that footage there is a real range of ages there.

"I imagine that these would have represented particular brothers, fathers, sons."

She added: "We have undoubtedly experienced an attack today that is unprecedented, unlike anything that we have experienced before.

"But, as I say, New Zealand has been chosen because we are not a place where violent extremism exists.

"We reject those notions and we must continue to reject them. This is not an enclave for that kind of behaviour, for that kind of ideology.

Police stand outside a mosque in Linwood, Christchurch
Police stand outside a mosque in Linwood, Christchurch (AP)

"We will and must reject it. This is a place where people should feel secure and will feel secure.

"I am not going to let this change New Zealand's profile, none of us should."

Officers responded to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch at about 1.40pm local time (12.40am GMT), and urged people in the area to stay indoors.

All schools in the city were put into lockdown as the situation unfolded.

Mosques in Deans Avenue and Linwood Avenue were targeted in the attack, but police urged all mosques across New Zealand to shut their doors in the wake of the incident.

Ms Ardern had earlier called it "one of New Zealand's darkest days".

"What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence," she said.

Witness Mohan Ibrahim said he was one of 200 people in the Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue when he heard shots fired.

He told the New Zealand Herald: "At first we thought it was an electric shock but then all these people started running."

"I still have friends inside," he added.

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

Members of the Bangladesh cricket team, currently on tour in New Zealand, said on social media that they had nearly been caught up in the tragedy.

Tamim Iqbal tweeted: "Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers", while Mushfiqur Rahim said: "Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque...we r extremely lucky...never want to see this things happen again.... pray for us".

New Zealand Police urged people not to share "extremely distressing footage" relating to the incident that was circulating online.

"It's very disturbing, it shouldn't be in the public domain," a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said the British High Commission in Wellington was in contact with the New Zealand authorities about the incident.

"British nationals in the area are advised to remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities," he said.

"The British High Commission in Wellington is in contact with the New Zealand authorities and urgently seeking further information."

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