Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 49 dead Friday, with one gunman — identified as an Australian extremist — apparently live streaming the assault that triggered the lockdown of the New Zealand city.
In what appeared to be the worst attack against Muslims in a western country, witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children believed to be among those killed.
“From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned,” she said, adding that in addition to the dead another 20 people were seriously injured.
“We have lifted our threat level from low to high,” Ardern said. “We have tightened our response from our agencies at the border, at the airports. In fact, at every level, we have a heightened response.”
The gunman at one mosque was an Australian-born citizen, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Sydney, describing him as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.
New Zealand’s deputy prime minister says the attack marks an end of an “age of innocence” for his country and its “strict” gun control laws will “all be open for review”.
Facebook allowed the live streaming of the shooting – sharing the distressing images to its 2.7Bn worldwide audience.
A local Muslim man, quoted by local press in New Zealand said he saw children being shot. “There were bodies all over,” he said. Whilst Facebook was live streaming the event for the world to see.
Video and documents circulating online show the shooter had streamed his attack on Facebook Live. Something that the social media giant said it would not allow.
A manifesto had also been posted online on accounts linked to the same Facebook page, suggesting the attack was racially motivated.