Gunmen attack New Zealand mosques, many feared dead

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New Zealand police said one person was in custody in connection with a mass shooting that claimed multiple lives at two mosques in the city of Christchurch Friday.

The gunman was not identified. Officers responded to a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor Friday afternoon where witnesses said several people had been killed and injured.

A second gunman was seen a short distance away at the Linwood Masjid mosque.

Authorities were not sure if any other locations were under threat and urged worshipers to refrain from visiting any mosque in the country, said Mike Bush, the commissioner of the New Zealand police.

Christchurch schools were locked down until further notice.

“We have one person in custody but we are unsure if there are other people,” Bush said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday’s events were “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Witnesses said the Masjid Al Noor mosque was full for Friday afternoon prayer when the shooting occurred.

One of them Len Peneha, told the Associated Press that he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of gunshots.

That was followed by terrified mosque-goers running from the terror. The gunman ran outside and dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon and fled.

“I saw dead people everywhere,” said one nearby resident.

Another witness told TVNZ he saw three women shot and bleeding outside the mosque. A third witness told Stuff.co.NZ the gunman fired more than 50 shots.

“He had a big gun and a lot of bullets and he came through and started shooting like everyone in the mosque, like everywhere, and they have to smash the door and the glass from the window and from the small door to try and get out,” he said.

Members of the Bangladesh cricket team said they narrowly escape the shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque.

Players and coaching staff were reportedly getting off a bus when the shooting broke out.

Tamim Iqbal, a batsman on the team, tweeted “entire team got saved from active shooters. Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.”

Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach with the team, told New Zealand media the players did not see the shooter but heard shots. He said they were shaken but unhurt.

“I spoke to one of them shortly after,” Vllavarayen said. They didn’t see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground and just started running. The coaching staff were all at the hotel.”

The team reportedly fled the scene on foot to Hagley Oval where it is scheduled to play New Zealand on Saturday.

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