Photo: Kyodo News
New Zealand police said Friday that a number of fatalities have been confirmed after shooting incidents at two mosques in Christchurch earlier in the day.
Three men and one woman were in custody following the shootings but it is not yet clear if there were others involved, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said at a televised news conference, Kyodo News reports.
Local media are reporting that between nine and 27 people are feared dead, but the police have not confirmed this.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a televised interview, described Friday as "one of New Zealand's darkest days."
The police are "responding to a very serious and tragic incident involving an active shooter in central Christchurch," Bush said in a statement.
News website Stuff says Christchurch Hospital is expecting about 40-50 injured to arrive.
When asked whether she would describe the incident as a "hate crime," Ardern said it was an "unprecedented act of violence, an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand."
This is not who we are," the prime minister added.
The police said the risk environment remains "extremely high" and have recommended that all residents across Christchurch stay indoors until further notice. Schools are also in lockdown until further notice.
Bush asked anyone considering going to a mosque "anywhere in New Zealand today" to not go and close the doors "until you hear from us again."
The first shooting occurred at around 1:45 p.m. local time. The mosques attacked are on Deans Avenue in central Christchurch and Linwood Avenue about 5 kilometers to the east.
Source: Kazinform News Agency
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