CHRISTCHURCH: Forty-nine 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.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australian authorities were investigating any links between the country and the attack, but declined to provide further details about the gunman.
Australian media reported the gunman came from a town in New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, and state police later said they were increasing patrols around NSW mosques in light of the Christchurch attacks.
The police described the move as a precaution as “there is no ongoing or specific threat to any mosque or place of worship” in the state.
An emotional Morrison offered his sympathies to Kiwis, and announced that flags in Australia would be flown at half-mast in memory of the victims.
“We are not just allies, we are not just partners, we are family,” he said.
New Zealand police detained three men after the attacks, but have not provided their identities.
“It is such a sad and devastating reminder of the evil that can be ever present about us,” Morrison said of the attacks.