At Least 49 Dead, 4 in Custody After Mass Shootings at New Zealand Mosques

Four suspects are in custody after at least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured in two mass shootings at mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Forty-one people were killed at the al Noor mosque, while seven died at the Linwood mosque. One person died from their injuries in the hospital, CNN reports.

As part of the attack, two improvised explosive devices (IED) were attached to a vehicle, said New Zealand Police Commissions Mike Bush; one device has been disabled and authorities are working on the other.

new-zealand-mosque-mass-shooting-christchurch_getty-Dianne Manson : Stringer
(Photo: Dianne Manson / Stringer, Getty)

A number of weapons were recovered at both the Linwood and al Noor locations.

Police said three men and one woman were taken into custody and that they do not believe there are any other suspects. A man in his late 20s has been charged with murder and will appear at the Christchuch court Saturday morning local time.

Of the other three people apprehended, two were arrested in possession of firearms and police are still trying to understand their involvement, Bush said. The pair remains in local custody on Friday night local time.

Police said a fourth person was arrested Friday but "that was not related to these events."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that at least one of those arrested is Australian. He said the shooting was the work of an "extremist right-wing, violent terrorist."

The massacre, which New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinta Ardern, also described as a terrorist attack, appeared to be meticulously planned by suspects who held "extremist views."

In a social media post just before the attack, an account believed to belong to one of the attackers posted a link to an 87-page manifesto filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack.

In addition, police are aware of a video shared online and broadcast live during the attack, which reportedly showed a gunman walking into a mosque and opening fire.

"We would strongly urge that the [video] link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed," the New Zealand police said.

A spokesperson for Facebook New Zealand said videos that showed the Christchurch shootings were quickly removed from the platform.

"New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we removed both the shooter's Facebook account and the video. We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware," Mia Garlick said.

A spokesperson for Google and YouTube called the shooting a "terrible tragedy" and said the platforms will remove any "shocking, violent and graphic content" relate to the attack "as soon as we become aware of it."

Twitter has removed an account it believes is connected to the suspect in the shooting and is working to keep the video of the incident off its platform, a spokesperson said.

In a news conference, Ardern described the attack as "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

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"What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence," she said, adding that the attackers have "no place in New Zealand."

"For now my thoughts and I'm sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders are with those who are being affected and with the families," she said.