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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer. katherine molé mfa ... art director
Friday, March 15, 2019
49 KILLED, 20 Seriously Injured in New Zealand Mass Shooting Targeting MOSQUES
Louis Casiano, Samuel Chamberlain
Four people were in custody -- one of whom was charged with murder -- after at least one heavily-armed shooter mowed down Muslim worshippers at Friday prayer, massacring 49 people in two New Zealand mosques while broadcasting a horrific live stream of the terror attack.
A 28-year-old Australian-born citizen was in custody after claiming responsibility for the attacks and allegedly posting a white nationalist manifesto immediately before the murder spree. The man, who was not identified, was described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.” Of the other three people in custody -- one of whom was a woman -- officials said at least one may not be connected to the attacks.
As authorities worked to determine if any other people connected to the plot remained at large, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush told mosques nationwide to “close your doors until you hear from us again.”
Two improvised explosive devices were found in a vehicle after the shooting, one of which was disabled and one that police were working to defuse Friday night. It wasn't clear if the vehicle was the same one the 28-year-old suspect was seen driving in the live-streamed video of the attacks.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said none of the suspects were on any security watch lists.
"These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand," Ardern said.
Officials said 41 people were killed at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch and seven were slain inside the Linwood Masjid Mosque, about three miles away from Masjid Al Noor. Another person died at a local hospital.
Police were also working to remove an unconfirmed video that circulated online showing the Australian suspect entering a mosque and murdering worshippers at will. At one point, he exits the mosque to re-arm before going back inside to shoot more people. Eventually, the man flees as emergency vehicles can be heard approaching in the background.
"There wasn’t even time to aim, there was so many targets," the man says, chillingly, as he drives away.
Witnesses said the Masjid Al Noor mosque was full for Friday afternoon prayers when the shooting occurred. Len Peneha told the Associated Press that he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of gunshots. That was followed by terrified mosque-goers running from the terror. A suspect was seen outside, fleeing after dropping what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon, witnesses said.
A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone 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)
"I saw dead people everywhere," one nearby resident said.
Another witness told TVNZ he saw three women shot and bleeding outside the mosque. A third witness said a suspect fired more than 50 shots, Stuff.co.NZ reported.
"He had a big gun and a lot of bullets and he came through and started shooting, like, everyone in the mosque, like, everywhere, and they have to smash the door and the glass from the window and from the small door to try and get out," he said.
Retno Marsudi, Indonesia's foreign minister, said six Indonesians were inside the Al Noor Mosque when the shooting occurred and three escaped.
“We are looking for three other Indonesian citizens," Marsudi said.
Members of the Bangladesh cricket team said they narrowly escaped the shooting at the same mosque. Players and coaching staff were reportedly getting off a bus when the shooting broke out. Tamim Iqbal, a batsman on the team, tweeted: “Entire team got saved from active shooters. Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.”