Police keep watch at a park across the road from a a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. Image Credit: AP

Highlights

  • Two mosques were attacked: Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch and the suburban Linwood mosque
  • UAE leaders condemn attack
  • Gulf, Arab and world leaders also condemn attack

Gunmen in New Zealand attacked worshippers in two mosques early Friday in Christchurch causing multiple fatalities. Death toll has reached 50.  Police have arrested four people including one woman. Terrorists targeted Al Noor mosque and another one in the suburb of Linwood. Here are the events as they unveiled: (With inputs from agencies)

March 17, 10.03am

Husband of slain woman sends 'forgiveness' to New Zealand mosque gunman.

The husband of a woman killed as she tried to rescue him from a Christchurch mosque forgave the gunman on Sunday.

"I would say to him 'I love him as a person'," Farid Ahmad told AFP. Asked if he forgave the 28-year-old suspect, he said: "Of course. The best thing is forgiveness, generosity, loving and caring, positivity."

Husna Ahmed was among 50 people killed in the attack on two mosques that were packed for Friday prayers.

When the shooting started, she helped several people escape from the women's and children's hall.

"She was screaming 'come this way, hurry up', and she took many children and ladies towards a safe garden," Ahmad said.

"Then she was coming back for checking about me, because I was in a wheelchair, and as she was approaching the gate she was shot. She was busy saving lives, forgetting about herself."

Ahmad, 59, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being hit by a drunk driver in 1998, believes he escaped the hail of bullets because the gunman was focused on other targets.

"This guy was shooting one person two, three times, probably that gave some time to us to move out.. even the dead he was shooting them again."

He did not see his wife when he left the mosque and only learned of her death after somebody photographed her body.

"Her picture was out in the social media, so somebody showed me the picture and I identified quite easily."

Ahmad said if he was able to sit down with the mass murderer he would encourage him to rethink his outlook on life.

"I will tell him that inside him he has great potential to be a generous person, to be a kind person, to be a person who would save people, save humanity rather than destroy them," he said.

"I want him to look for that positive attitude in him, and I hope and I pray for him he would be a great civilian one day. I don't have any grudge."

March 17, 7.31am

New Zealand PM says received gunman's 'manifesto' nine minutes before attack.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her office received a "manifesto" from the gunman suspected of killing 50 people in two Christchurch mosques minutes before Friday's attack.

"I was one of more than 30 recipients of the manifesto that was mailed out nine minutes before the attack took place," Ardern told reporters on Sunday.

"It did not include a location, it did not include specific details," she said, adding that it was sent to security services within two minutes of receipt.

Ardern said she had read "elements" of the lengthy, meandering and conspiracy-filled far-right "manifesto".

"The fact that there was an ideological manifesto with extreme views attached to this attack, of course, that is deeply disturbing," she said.

Ardern has also said that the bodies of those killed in Christchurch terror attacks will start being released to families Sunday night.

March 16, 9.24pm

'I am a proud Muslim': New Zealand officer Naila Hassan

"I am a proud Muslim and I am a leader in the NZ Police and I am horrified at the events in Christchurch," says Superintendent Naila Hassan - NZ's highest ranking Muslim Police officer. She was speaking at vigil at Aotea Square for the victims of the Christchurch tragedy.

March 16, 7.30pm

Four-year-old Elin is fighting for her life

A Jordanian man says his 4-year-old niece is fighting for her life after being wounded in the New Zealand mosque shootings.

Sabri Daraghmeh said by phone to AFP from Jordan on Saturday that the girl, Elin, remains "in the danger phase" and that her father, Waseem - Sabri's brother - is in stable condition.

Daraghmeh says the 33-year-old Waseem moved to New Zealand five years ago and that he described it as the "safest place one could ever live in."

The Daraghmehs are of Palestinian origin, but have Jordanian citizenship, like several others listed as Jordanian nationals among those killed and wounded in the mosque attacks.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that at least four Palestinians were among those killed, but acknowledged they could have been counted by Jordan or other countries.

March 16, 6.31pm

 

Four Egyptians among those killed in mosque attack

 

Egypt said on Saturday that four of its citizens were among the worshippers killed in a mass shooting attack at two New Zealand mosques.

"New Zealand authorities confirmed (to us) the deaths of four Egyptians," the migration ministry announced on its Facebook page.

It named them as Munir Suleiman, Ahmad Gamaluddin Abdel Ghani, Ashraf al-Morsi and Ashraf al-Masri.

A heavily armed Australian right-wing extremist attacked two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch on Friday, killing 49 people.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the victims came from across the Muslim world. One Saudi citizen and two Jordanians were also among the dead, while five Pakistani citizens were missing.

The grand imam of Egypt's famed Al Azhar mosque and university, Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayeb, has condemned the attacks as a "horrific terrorist attack".

The "rising rhetoric of hatred and xenophobia and the spread of Islamophobia" were to blame, he said.

8.23pm

Authorities advised people not to go to mosques until further notice

Four people were arrested on Friday after two gunmen opened fire at two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch city, with the police saying that there were "multiple fatalities".

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the four arrested people comprised three men and one woman, CNN reported. "We are not aware of other people, but we cannot assume there are not others at large," Bush told the media here. The shootings took place at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Masjid, The New Zealand Herald reported.

One gunman, believed to be Australian, filmed as he shot victims in the mosque - and wrote a manifesto declaring his intentions, saying that "it is a terrorist attack", according to Bush.

He said that there were also multiple improvised explosive devices attached to vehicles as part of the attack. "This goes to the seriousness of the situation," Bush said, adding that the police were not assuming the situation was limited to Christchurch at this stage.

Authorities advised people not to go to mosques until further notice. All Christchurch schools are on lockdown.


7.01pm

New Zealand massacre provides test for live video platforms

A horrific video of the New Zealand mosque massacre was blocked by Facebook during its livestream but circulated on other social media, highlighting the challenges faced by internet platforms in curbing the spread of violent content.

Facebook said it "quickly" removed a live video from the suspected gunman in twin mosque shootings in Christchurch that killed at least 50 people.

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. Image Credit: AP

But the livestream lasting some 17 minutes, according to some reports, was shared repeatedly on YouTube and Twitter, with some footage still being viewed late on Friday.

The major internet platforms have pledged to crack down on sharing of violent images and other inappropriate content through automated systems and human monitoring, but critics say it isn't working.

"There's no excuse for the content from that livestream to be still circulating on social media now," said Lucinda Creighton, a former government minister in Ireland and an advisor to the Counter Extremism Project, which campaigns to remove violent internet content.


4.20pm

Mohammad Bin Zayed offers condolences

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces offered deepest condolences to the families of the victims in New Zealand terror attack. 

"Our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the hate crime that took the lives of innocent Muslims performing Friday prayers in New Zealand. We call on the world to fight hatred. The UAE is a nation of tolerance and we affirm the need for love and coexistence," he tweeted.


3.45pm


3.00pm

Queen 'deeply saddened' by 'appalling' attacks

Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand's head of state, on Friday said she was "deeply saddened" by the attacks on two mosques which left 49 people dead.

"I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today... At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders," she wote.


2.15pm

Saudi Arabia condemns terror attack

Saudi Foreign Ministry in a statement condemned the terrorist attack that took place in New Zealand on Friday.

The statement said “Saudi Arabia's condemn terrorism in all its forms, regardless of its source, and that terrorism has no religion and no homeland.”

Police stand outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. Image Credit: AP

Saudi national wounded

Saudi embassy in New Zealand issued a separate statement saying that one Saudi national was wounded in the attack. His condition is stable, said the statement.

The embassy urged Saudis in New Zealand to stay put and better to keep indoors till further notice and to call the embassy if assistance is needed.

Other Arab countries condemned the attack

The Jordanian State Minister for Media Affairs Jumana Gneimat in a statement emphasized Jordan “rejection of terrorism and the assault of those living in peace and places of worship”.

Christchurch terror attack Image Credit: Graphic News/Gulf News

Al Azhar

Al Azhar on the other hand condemned the terrorist attack on the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Al Azhar in a statement warned “the attack is a serious indicator of the consequences of the escalation of hate speech, xenophobia and the spread of Islamophobia in many European countries.”

Secretary-General and Chairman of the World Council of Muslim Scholars, Shaikh Dr. Mohammad Bin Abdul Karim Al Issa, said that “this barbaric work is added to the parallel models of the acts of Daesh and Al Qaida.

“Association confirms its confidence in the New Zealand government to bring those involved in this crime to justice and to prosecute them as terrorists.”


1.45pm

Shaikh Mohammad condemns attack

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai condemned the heinous attack that killed 49 worshippers in New Zealand.

" We witnessed the most horrific hate crime that killed 49 worshippers on a blessed day. Our condolences to New Zealand, to the families of the victims and to Muslims across the world. On behalf of UAE that declared the Year of Tolerance, we call for a unified stand against hatred. ," Shaikh Mohammad tweeted.


1.10pm

UAE condemns mass shooting

The UAE has condemned the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques, in New Zealand, which left a number of people dead and others injured.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has affirmed full solidarity with New Zealand in its confrontation with terrorism and extremism and its support for all measures taken by the government of New Zealand to safeguard its security and ensure the safety of its nationals and residents.

The Ministry has reaffirmed the UAE's categorical rejection of all forms of terrorism, expressing condolences to the government of New Zealand and to the families of the victims as well as wishes for speedy recovery to the injured.


12.52pm

Emirati students safe: UAE embassy

Emirati students in New Zealand are fine and we have communicated with them and alerted them to take care and caution during these exceptional circumstances, UAE Embassy in New Zealand has informed.

UAE Ambassador to New Zealand, Ahmed Salim Al Suwaidi said the UAE diplomatic mission has communicated with the Emirati students learning in the country to make sure of their safety and urge them to exercise maximum caution during such exceptional circumstances in implementation of the New Zealand police's instructions under all circumstances.

Police console a man outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand. Image Credit: AP

The ambassador said the embassy has allocated the following phone number: 006448302949, for emergency calls in addition to the following local emergency contact: 111.

He condemned the shooting and reaffirmed UAE's categorical rejection of all forms of terrorism.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted "heartfelt condolences" to New Zealand on Friday.

Gargash wrote: "Our collective work against violence & hate must continue with renewed vigor. Our thoughts & prayers are with the families of the victims."

Eyewitness account


12.30pm

49 dead in mosque attack

New Zealand mosque attacks toll rises to 49 dead, said police. One man is also charged with murder for New Zealand mosque attacks, police added. "One person, a male in his late 20s, has been charged with murder, and should appear in the Christchurch Court tomorrow morning," said New Zealand police Commissioner Mike Bush.

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. Image Credit: AFP

In what appeared to be the worst attack against Muslims, witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children believed to be among those killed.


11.30am

Military detonate unattended bags

The New Zealand military detonated two unattended bags near an Auckland railway station Friday, as the country was put on high alert following a deadly terror attack on two mosques.

A police officer secures the area in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch. Image Credit: AFP

"A short time ago Defence Force personnel carried out a controlled explosion of the bags as a precautionary measure," police said in a statement.

"Police can confirm the bags were not suspicious and contained scaffolding equipment."


10.40am

Forty killed, more than 20 injured  

Forty people were killed and more than 20 seriously wounded in mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch on Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Ardern said New Zealand had been placed on its highest security threat level. She said four people in police custody held extremist views, but had not been on any police watchlists.

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," she said. "From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned."

"Two explosive devices attached to suspect vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed," she added.

Here are some of the remarks from an address to her nation in the wake of the attacks:

"We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism.

"We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of those things.

"Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion. A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks on live television following fatal shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, 2019, in this still image taken from video. Image Credit: Reuters

"We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages. And amongst that diversity we share common values. And the one that we place the currency on right now is our compassion and support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy.

"And secondly, the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this.

"You may have chosen us - we utterly reject and condemn you."

It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack. From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned.

- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Thirty fatalities occurred at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch. Seven of the dead were inside the suburban Linwood Masjid Mosque and three died outside the same mosque. A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings said in a manifesto that he was a 28-year-old white Australian who came to New Zealand only to plan and train for the attack.


10.10am

One suspect is Australian: PM

One of four people detained after mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch is Australian, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

"I can confirm that the individual who was taken into custody I have been advised is an Australian-born citizen," he told reporters in Sydney.

"As family members with our New Zealand cousins today, we grieve, we are shocked, we are appalled, we are outraged, and we stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist."


9.20am

Lockdown lifted after Christchurch mosque attacks: police

Police block the road near the shooting at a mosque in Linwood, Christchurch, New Zealand. Image Credit: AP

New Zealand police on Friday lifted a lockdown put in place after deadly armed assaults on two Christchurch mosques, allowing frantic parents to pick up their children.

"Police can now confirm the lock down of schools throughout Christchurch has been lifted," New Zealand Police said in a statement.


9.05am

Explosives found in Vehicles

New Zealand police say they've defused a number of improvised explosive devices found on vehicles after mosque shootings, reports Associated Press.


9.00am

What witnesses saw at Al Noor Mosque

Witnesses told media that a man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle had started randomly shooting people in the Al Noor mosque.

After parking his vehicle he took two guns and walked a short distance to the entrance of the mosque.

He then opened fire. Over the course of five minutes, he repeatedly shoots worshippers, leaving well over a dozen bodies in one room alone. He returned to the car during that period to change guns, and went back to the mosque to shoot anyone showing signs of life.

A Palestinian man who was in one of the mosques said he saw someone being shot in the head.

"I heard three quick shots then after about 10 seconds it started again. It must have been an automatic - no one could pull a trigger that quick," the man, who did not wish to be named, told AFP.

Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Image Credit: AP

"Then people started running out. Some were covered in blood," he said, adding that he joined the fleeing crowd and managed to escape the scene.

The Masjid al Noor in central Christchurch was filled with worshippers when the attack happened, as was the second mosque in suburban Linwood.

One witness told stuff.co.nz he was praying when he heard shooting - and then saw his wife lying dead on the footpath outside when he fled.

Another man said he saw children being shot.

"There were bodies all over," he said.

An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand that he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with "blood everywhere".


8.40am

Four in custody

New Zealand police say four people, incuding a woman in custody after shootings.

New Zealand media reported that between nine and 27 people were killed, but the death toll could not be confirmed. Police said multiple fatalities had occurred at two mosques, but it was unclear how many attackers were involved, reports Reuters

Video footage widely circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, showed him driving to one mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.

Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay huddled on the floor of the mosque, the video showed.


8.30am

New Zealand, Bangladesh cricket Test cancelled

New Zealand and Bangladesh on Friday cancelled the third cricket Test after multiple people were killed in gun attacks on mosques in Christchurch, including one that was attended by the Bangladeshi team.

"A joint decision between NZC and the @BCBtigers has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test," the New Zealand team tweeted, adding that all players and officials were safe.

Nazmul Hassan Papon (C) president of Bangladesh Cricket Board and a member of parliament speaks during a press conference in Dhaka. Image Credit: AFP

The third and final Test was scheduled to start on Saturday at Christchurch's Hagley Oval. New Zealand won the first two games in the series.

Bangladeshi players and team staff arrived at the city's Masjid al Noor for Friday prayers as a shooting unfolded and were warned not to go inside.

"We are shocked and appalled, as I'm sure all New Zealanders are," NZ Cricket chief executive David White told TVNZ.

"I have spoken to my counterpart in Bangladesh and we both agree that it's inappropriate to play cricket at this time."


8.00am

Multiple fatalities' in New Zealand shootings - police

Multiple fatalities were inflicted at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday when at least one gunman opened fire on worshippers, police said in a Reuters report.

Witnesses told media that a man dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle had started randomly shooting people in the Al Noor mosque.

A body lies on the footpath outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Image Credit: AP

The Bangladesh cricket team was arriving for prayers at the mosque when the shooting occurred but all members were safe, a team coach told Reuters.

Police said they had one person in custody but they were not sure if others were involved.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the shooting as "one of New Zealand's darkest days".

Ardern said she was unable to confirm the number of fatalities, saying events were still unfolding.

"It is clear that this is one of New Zealand's darkest days," she told reporters. "Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."

Police advised people to stay away from mosques.

"As far as we know," the fatalities occurred at two mosques, New Zealand's Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme violence.

Police said earlier they were hunting "an active shooter" in the centre of Christchurch city.

"A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter," New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.

"Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high." Media reported that a gunman opened fire inside mosque in Christchurch's Hagley Park district. There were reports of armed police at a second mosque in the suburb of Linwood.

People in centre of the city should stay indoors, police said. All Christchurch schools and council buildings have been placed into lockdown.

Police did not immediately comment on whether the incident took place in the mosque or nearby. There is no official confirmation on casualties.

Media said shots had been fired near a mosque and a witness told broadcaster One News that he had seen three people lying on the ground, bleeding outside the building.


7.30am

'Blood everywhere'

Radio New Zealand quoted a witness inside the mosque saying he heard shots fired and at least four people were lying on the ground and "there was blood everywhere".

"Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred," said Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch.

The Bangladesh cricket team is in Christchurch to play New Zealand in a third cricket test starting on Saturday.

"They were on the bus, which was just pulling up to the mosque when the shooting begun" Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach of the Bangladesh cricket team, told Reuters in a message.

"They are shaken but good." Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand's population, a 2013 census showed.


7.20am

Bangla cricketers escape shooting

The Bangladesh cricket team had a devastating experience in Christchurch on Friday when shooters fired at a New Zealand mosque. Even though the players were in the vicinity, they are safe.

The team though is in a state of shock by the turn of events. The players took to social media to inform fans and family of their safety and also asked them to pray for those in the crisis.

An active shooter is at large in Christchurch after attacking the mosque, police said and warned people to avoid the area as all schools and hospitals were put in lockdown.

Bangladesh is set to play New Zealand in Christchurch in the the third Test in the ongoing series and the mosque attack comes on the eve of the Test match.

Witnesses told the media there were several casualties and people were seen running for their lives to escape the shooter.

Taking to Twitter, senior batsman Tamim Iqbal said: "Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack"

Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim tweeted: "Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque...we are extremely lucky...never want to see this things happen again....pray for us."


7.00am

'Many dead' in mosque shooting, NZ media reports

New Zealand media are reporting that multiple people have been killed in a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch.


6.50am

Police swarm central Christchurch amid shooting

Christchurch: Armed police in New Zealand swarmed central Christchurch Friday amid a shooting at a mosque in the South Island city.

“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” police said in a statement.

“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”

Police commissioner Mike Bush said all schools in the city had been placed in lockdown in response to “a serious ongoing firearms incident”.

“Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour,” he said in a statement.

An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with “blood everywhere”.

There was no official information on casualties but the New Zealand Herald said at least one person was killed.

ESPN Cricinfo reporter Mohammad Isam said members of the Bangladesh cricket team, who are due to play a Test match in Christchurch tomorrow escaped from the mosque.

“They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval,” he tweeted.