BAn attack on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch killed 49 people on Friday, police said. In total, 48 people were treated with gunshot wounds at the Christchurch hospital, including children, according to official figures. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had previously spoken of 40 dead and 20 seriously injured. "This can only be described as a terrorist attack," Ardern said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also classified the attack as an act of terrorism. The attack was a 28-year-old Australian involved. Morrison said Friday: "We strongly condemn this attack, committed by a right-wing extremist, violent terrorist". Morrison did not provide further details. He stressed that the investigation will be conducted by the New Zealand authorities.
The exact procedure was not yet clear even after hours. It has been suggested that c is more than a criminal. The police arrested a total of four suspects: three men and one woman, at least three of whom are held in custody. Ardern pointed out that the police do not exclude other participants. None of the suspects had previously appeared in a list of threats. The suspicious 28-year-old Australian, however, had published an extreme-right manifesto before online crime. Apparently he also broadcast a 17 minute video of the act using a Bodycam. Facebook and Twitter are now blocking the material.
A video shows several armed men taking out a man from a white car that was obviously rammed previously. According to the police, two explosive devices were discovered on a car. In the beginning there was talk of explosives on different machines. According to Ardern, the explosives were on the suspects' machines. The "IEDs" – improvised explosives – have been defused.
Officials also denied media reports that the authors should have worn explosive belts. Even a circulating multimedia name of the 28-year-old Australian did not want to confirm the police.
The shooter wore a helmet and a bulletproof vest
According to eyewitness reports, the drama began at 1:45 pm (1:45 am CET). An armed man entered a mosque in the center where, at noon, more than 300 people gathered for Friday prayers and fired at them with a rapid-fire weapon. According to eyewitnesses, he was a white man with a helmet and a bulletproof vest. Only 30 people died in the Al Noor mosque. Subsequently, the shots were fired at another mosque. Seven people died in the Linwood Avenue Mosque and three others were killed in front of the building.
One of the surviving believers, Mohan Ibrahim, told the "New Zealand Herald" newspaper of a "shock moment". "Then all the people started running away." Another witness, Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, said: "At least 50 shots were fired, very fast in a row. It may have been hundreds."
WELT correspondent Anke Richter reported on WELT television in a telephone switch directly from Christchurch. He recalled the serious earthquake eight years ago: "The state of emergency, the shock, the people who are approaching, who cannot believe what happened to everyone here, but above all to the Muslim community".
Everything was still in the city: the evening concerts had been canceled, the children had to bear in part until six in their schools. So far, New Zealand has been a country without terror, the country has never experienced an attack on its soil. The apparently extreme attack of the right especially fools people, because so far there have been no problems with Muslims: "Here we have no refugee crisis".
For the Pacific state, the brutal attack is the worst act of violence in recent history. Prime Minister Ardern spoke of one of New Zealand's "darkest hours" and "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence". Firearms are permitted only in New Zealand for hunting purposes.
To the people – especially the Muslims – Ardern appealed to stay at home: "Under no circumstances should anyone go to a mosque now". He added that for these acts there was no "no place in New Zealand". At the same time he expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. "This is his home. They belong to us," Ardern continued. "The person who committed this act of violence is not one of us." One of the alleged murderers had stated in his manifesto that he was fighting "mass migration".
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) condemned the attacks as a "brutal crime". "We are deeply shaken by Christchurch's brutal crime" tweeted Maas Friday "In these difficult times, we are firmly at the side of our New Zealand friends". Maas expressed his compassion for the families and friends of the victims.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attacks in the strongest terms. The "terrorist attack" was directed against believers in prayer. "I curse those who committed it," explained Erdogan.
In New Zealand, only a small minority of the Muslim population is Muslim. In total there are about 50,000 Muslims, many of whom are immigrants from countries like Pakistan or Bangladesh. The largest religious group in New Zealand is Christianity. The city of Christchurch has 350,000 inhabitants and is located in the southern Pacific island.