As of now, 5pm local time on March 3rd 2019, 49 people have been confirmed to be dead while many more have been injured in a mass shooting which took place at two separate mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush, said that the toll had increased to 49 after an earlier report stated that 40 people have perished in the act of terrorism.
Two Malaysians were reportedly injured in the attack, and three Indonesians survived the shooting while three more are unaccounted for, CNBC reported.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” said the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, according to a report in CNBC. “Clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence”, she added.
Mr. Bush said a mosque on Deans Avenue near Hagley Park, in the centre of the city, and a mosque on Linwood Avenue, about three miles away, were attacked. “Those locations remain locked down,” he said in a statement, CNBC reported.
Witnesses claimed that a man who donned a military style, camouflage outfit, carried an automatic rifle into the Al Noor mosque and opened fire randomly at people.
New York Times reported that shortly before the shooting, a man appearing to be the gunman, publicly posted links to a manifesto on Twitter and 8chan, an online forum. The 8chan post included a link to what seemed to be the man’s Facebook page, where he said he would soon upstream a live broadcast of the attack.
In his manifesto, he identified himself as Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old man born in Australia. This was later confirmed by the Australian government.
The 17-minute video which was captured using a bodycam shows the gunman driving to the mosque, retrieving his weapon from his car, and walking briskly into the mosque. He then mercilessly started shooting at people randomly. The video ends as the terrorist withdrew himself and drives away.
The brutal act went live on Facebook. Mia Garlick, a Facebook representative, said that the social media company was alerted by police with regard to the livestream which was being circulated online and effort was placed to have all the footages removed. “We quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” Mia Garlick said, according to New York Times.
Twitter has also shut down a user account in that name. Youtube released a statement on Twitter that they are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage pertaining to the attacks.
Our hearts are broken over today’s terrible tragedy in New Zealand. Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage.
— YouTube (@YouTube) March 15, 2019
There hasn’t been a mass shooting in New Zealand since 1990, when a man killed 13 people after a dispute with his neighbour in the town of Aramoana.
New Zealand is one of the safest countries to live in. However, according to the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss nonprofit, there were 1.2 million registered firearms in the country of 4.6 million people in 2017.
It is worth noting that Youtuber Felix Kjellberg, who goes by the channel name Pewdiepie, was seemingly praised by the gunman. Upon learning about this, Felix made a statement on Twitter condemning the attacks.
Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch.
I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person.
My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.
— ƿ૯ωძɿ૯ƿɿ૯ (@pewdiepie) March 15, 2019