Via NBC News — Scores of worshippers were killed after mass shootings during Friday prayers at two mosques in New Zealand.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush told a 4 a.m. ET press conference that 49 people were dead with dozens of others injured. Bush said a man aged in his late 20s had been charged with murder.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
Ardern described the incident as a terrorist attack, adding that it appeared to have been well-planned.
“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world,” she said.
Officers responded to reports of shots fired around 1:40 p.m. Friday (8:40 p.m. ET Thursday) in Christchurch, a city of around 375,000 people.
Bush said that four people — three men and a woman — had initially been detained, but it remained unclear whether all of them were involved.
According to Bush, “a number of IEDs attached to vehicles” were found. He said firearms had been recovered from both scenes.
The man who was charged didn’t appear on any terrorism watchlists, authorities said. Bush said that “no agency had any information” about the suspects before the incident.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he was advised that one of those in custody is an Australian national, and he condemned the attack “by an extremist right-wing violent terrorist.”
Various social media posts on Twitter and the fringe message board 8chan were published online by someone who appeared to have had prior knowledge of the shootings, including pictures of weapons and ammunition.
Authorities have not confirmed that the postings are connected to the shootings, but pictures and videos seen by NBC News as well as a manifesto posted shortly before the attack match known details of the shootings.
The manifesto includes anti-Muslim rhetoric, far-right and far-left political sentiment and references to radicalization via the internet.
Users on one of 8chan’s message boards, where the manifesto and terror threat were posted before the shooting, frequently share racist, homophobic and misogynistic memes and diatribes.