Attacks on two Christchurch mosques left at least 40 dead Friday, with one gunman – identified as an Australian extremist – apparently live streaming the assault that triggered the lock down of the New Zealand city.
Witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children also believed to be among those killed.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying it marked “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
“From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned,” she said, adding that in addition to the dead another 20 people were seriously injured.
The gunman at one mosque was an Australian-born citizen, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Sydney, describing him as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.
It was not immediately clear how many attackers were involved, but Ardern said three men had been taken into custody.
Two IEDS (improvised explosive devices) were also found and neutralised by the military, police said.
Local media reported at least nine people were dead.