The mosque terror attacks in Christchurch which have left at least 49 people dead were a “very well-planned” attack, New Zealand’s police commissioner has said.
At least 41 people died at one mosque in the South Island city, seven at another and one person died in hospital, Mike Bush told reporters. Meanwhile, more than 30 others have been taken to hospital with serious injuries.
A man in his late 20s, believed to be called Brenton Tarrant, has been charged with murder and is set to appear in court on Saturday 16 March, while officers are trying to determine if three other suspects were involved in the attacks.
Asked how long he believed the terrorist had been preparing for the attack, Commissioner Bush said: “I couldn’t tell you, but I think – I don’t need to tell you, this is a very well-planned event.”
He added two suspected improvised explosive devices were found on one of the suspects’ vehicles.
A video circulated on social media, apparently taken by the terrorist and posted online as the attack unfolded. It showed him driving to one mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.
The terrorist is also believed to have published a manifesto outlining his intentions, in which he espoused anti-immigrant and Islamophobic ideology.
The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has raised New Zealand’s national security threat level from low to high
Three people have been arrested, one of which has publicly stated he is Australian-born. “These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world.
She added the presence of suspected explosives “gives us an indication there was a degree of planning around what has happened today”.
New Zealand police said the attack is terrorism and described it as an “unprecedented event” for the country.
“We are unable at this stage to provide details about matters leading up to the attacks. It is very early days and these matters will form part of the investigation,” the force said in a statement.
London mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed there would be a “highly visible” police presence outside mosques around the capital, including armed response officers.