New Zealand police hunt gunman on loose after mosque attack

Pedestrian walk past the Christchurch Cathedral as it undergoes repairs in Christchurch, New Zealand, on, Aug 29, 2013. (Bloomberg pic)

WELLINGTON: New Zealand police said they are hunting a gunman who remains on the loose in the South Island city of Christchurch following a shooting at a mosque.

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

“The risk environment remains extremely high. Police recommend that residents across Christchurch remain off the streets and indoors until further notice.”

Armed police were deployed after shots were fired at around 1.40pm local time on Friday.

All Christchurch schools have been placed in lockdown.

Television New Zealand showed pictures of multiple ambulances arriving at Christchurch Hospital, and said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has canceled all engagements to concentrate on the incident.

Radio New Zealand reported that shots were fired at a mosque near Hagley Park where hundreds of people were praying.

It said an eyewitness saw a man wearing a helmet and glasses and a military style jacket open fire inside the mosque. One person saw four people lying on the ground and said “there was blood everywhere,” RNZ reported.

Members of the touring Bangladesh cricket team were reportedly among those fleeing the mosque.