New Zealand shooting – live: Police evacuate neighbours of property linked to Christchurch mosque terror attack after 49 killed
At least 49 people have been killed and dozens more are seriously injured after hootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
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 and another three people, following a second shooting at another mosque in the Christchurch suburbs.
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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.
It remains unclear how many shooters were involved in the attack. 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.
Politicians around the world, including Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Claude Juncker, have paid tribute to the victims of the attack.
The Queen has sent a message of condolence to the people of New Zealand. In her message to the Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy, the Queen said her prayers were with all New Zealanders.
She said in her message: “I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives.
“I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured.
“At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.”
A graphic showing the locations of the two mosques in Christchurch. The sites are roughly a 10-minute drive apart.
Brenton Tarrant, 28, from Australia, was named in media reports in his home country as the gunman who appeared to have live-streamed the attack in Christchurch on Facebook as he shot victims in a mosque.
In a 74-page manifesto, believed to have been written by Tarrant, he describes anti-immigrant motives, saying the victims were a “large group of invaders” who he says “seek to occupy my peoples lands and ethnically replace my own people (sic)”.
Police are yet to officially name him as a suspect.
The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice section for New Zealand to reflect the latest shootings in Christchurch.
Here it is in full:
There has been a series of shootings in multiple locations in Christchurch. If you are in the area are advised to remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities. The British High Commission in Wellington is in contact with the New Zealand authorities and urgently seeking further information. Anyone worried that a British national may have been affected should call the New Zealand Police hotline: (+64) 0800 115 019 from within New Zealand or register with the Restoring Family Links (RFL) website from overseas.
Video appears to show moment of Christchurch terror arrest
An Australian senator has been condemned after he blamed the New Zealand terror attack on Muslim immigration.
In the wake of the killings, Fraser Anning tweeted: “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”
In a statement shared by an Australian journalist on Twitter, the Queensland senator also wrote: “As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but this is all cliched nonsense.
“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
The remarks were denounced by Sajid Javid, who accused the senator of stoking extremism.
Mr Javid tweeted: “At a time for grieving and reflection, this Australian senator fraser-anning fans the flames of violence & extremism.
“Australians will be utterly ashamed of this racist man. In no way does he represent our Australian friends.”
Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison said: “The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting.
“Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament.”
Assistant Chief Constable Matt Ward, of West Midlands Police, has echoed the statement issued by the Met Police regarding increased patrols at religious buildings.
He said: “Officers will be engaging with key religious buildings today to reassure local people.
“If any families are directly affected by the attack, West Midlands Police is ready to support in any way we can.”
France is also increasing security measures at mosques and other religious sites after the deadly attack.
Police in Auckland earlier conducted a controlled explosion after two suspicious packages were found at a railway station in the North Island city.
Despite initial speculation the incident was linked to the Christchurch shootings, the area was later reopened and there was no suggestion it was related to the mosque terror attack.
BREAKING: Police are searching a property in Dunedin, around 200 miles to the south of Christchurch, in relation to the shooting. Neighbours have been evacuated while the search takes place.
“Police are currently in attendance at a property on Somerville Street, Dunedin,” the police statement said.
“This is a location of interest in relation to the serious firearms incident in Christchurch today. Evacuations of properties in the immediate area have taken place as a precaution.”
MPs in the UK will hold a minute’s silence at 11am in memory of those killed in Christchurch, John Bercow has said.
New Zealand Police have released a new statement describing the incident as an “ongoing situation”, saying a “significant number of staff” were still on the ground in Christchurch.
Describing the attacks as “unprecedented”, the force tweeted that “49 people have been killed in the attacks, 41 people at the Deans Avenue mosque, and seven at the Linwood Avenue mosque.
“One person died in hospital. The number of those being treated in hospital has been updated to 48 people.
“A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court tomorrow morning.
“Two others remain in custody. Another person was arrested earlier today however that was not related to these events.”
Police said there were community events planned across the country this weekend which would see a visible police presence for safety and reassurance.
There has been a lot of criticism of media organisations and some of the world’s biggest social networks for allowing distressing footage of the shooting be shared and watched openly online.
This is despite an appeal from police not to share any video taken by the alleged attacker. Authorities in New Zealand said they were working to have the footage removed.
Here is the latest from our home affairs and security correspondent, Lizzie Dearden, on the reaction from police in the UK.
Some more reaction from British politicians, including the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who said it was “heartbreaking” people had been “murdered because of their faith”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged communities to “defeat the bigotry which fuels such hatred and violence”.
Eye witness to New Zealand attack describes the shooting: “We could hear the ambulances but they couldn’t get to us”
The Metropolitan Police have to assist their counterparts in New Zealand.
Neil Basu, head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard, said he was “monitoring events in New Zealand closely and send our condolences to all those affected”.
He added: “Our international network of UK counter terrorism officers will be ready to support our counterparts in New Zealand in responding to and investigating this appalling attack.”
He said police would be “stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques” in the UK, “giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves”.
Air New Zealand has grounded its regional flights following the Christchurch shooting. The cancellations affected 17 flights including those bound for Wellington, Dunedin and Napier.
“This is because it is not possible to screen customers and their baggage,” the airline said.
“Customers affected by cancellations still wanting to travel will be rebooked on the next available service. Customers on cancelled services who no longer wish to travel can receive a refund or hold their fare in credit for up to 12 months.
“Air New Zealand apologises for the inconvenience caused. The safety of its customers and employees is paramount.”
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