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40 people killed in shootings at New Zealand mosques, prime minister says

Nearby 40 people were killed when at least one shooter opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday.

New Zealand Protect Commissioner Mike Bush said that four people had been taken into custody, three men and one helpmate. As of 5:47 p.m. local time (12:47 a.m. ET), authorities said that a lock down of local schools had been advanced.

Bush said several explosives had been attached to vehicles. He added that there is no assumption the attack was keep under control to Christchurch.

“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” said the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. “Clearly what has happened here is an unusual and unprecedented act of violence.”

She said during a news conference that authorities currently believe about 40 people had been murdered in the attacks. More than 20 others were seriously injured, she added.

“It is clear that this can sole be described as a terrorist attack,” the prime minister said, according to a transcript of her address.

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

Two Malaysians were wound in the attack, and three Indonesians survived the shooting while three more are unaccounted for, according to reports.

The commissioner symbolized police had been dealing with two shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, one at Deans Avenue and one at Linwood Avenue. “Those findings remain locked down,” he said in a statement published at 6:06 p.m. local time.

“Police are still treating this to-do as ongoing and Christchurch residents are strongly urged to stay indoors and keep safe, and monitor the Police website and communal media for further information. We continue to utilize every possible resource to resolve the situation,” Bush said, reckoning that all mosques in the country had been asked to shut their doors.

Bush said he would not at this one of these days “be discussing the offenders’ possible motivations or the causes of this incident.”

The Bangladesh cricket team was in the vicinity of the shooting but all associates were safe, a team coach told media.

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

“Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is on no occasion a justification for that sort of hatred,” said Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch.

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

Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning cram of the Bangladesh cricket team was quoted by the New Zealand Herald as saying that the team was close to where the shooting occurred, but was allowable.

“The players are shaken up but fine,” Villavarayen was quoted as saying.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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