:: Peoples Time Online ::
Forty-nine people have been killed and 48 more hurt after mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques in the worst terror attack on New Zealand soil.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the shootings were “abhorrent”. At the Deans Ave mosque, 41 people were killed, while seven had died at the Linwood mosque. A 49th person had died in hospital.
One man in his late 20s had been charged with murder so far, Bush said.
“We have staff around the country making sure everyone is safe, including armed offenders at all mosques. Police staff have gone above and beyond to protect people today.”
Bush said police recovered a lot of firearms from both the Linwood Avenue and Deans Ave shooting scenes.
None of the four people arrested had been on any terrorism watch, including in Australia, the Police Commissioner said.
Bush said he has “no intelligence” on a potential attack on St Patrick’s Day threat that has been reported. He was not aware of today’s attacks being linked to any other terrorist plots.
Police were not “actively” looking for any of the potential attackers now.
Christchurch police had a force of 1000 staff, and Bush said he would expect “everyone of them” would want to be out on the streets now. Additional officers were being flown to Christchurch from Dunedin and surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, anxious family and friends are pacing outside Christchurch Hospital, waiting for news of injured loved ones.
Wailing and crying can be heard at intervals, as people learn their friends will not be coming home.
“We just got some very bad news,” said Mahdi Zougub, as his friends hugged nearby.
“We think our friend… we think he’s gone. There’s a lot of emotion.”
“I could see dead bodies. Now we are just waiting to hear the story with our missing ones. We just want to go in and find them.”
Some of the shooting victims have been released and allowed to go home.
One, with a wound on his hand and another on his leg, said his phone and wallet were in the mosque and he had no way to call a taxi.
“I can’t believe it,” he kept saying.
“My children… I’m just relieved I didn’t take them to prayer today.”
A social worker eventually helped the man get a cab – although there are long lines as many of the taxi drivers are from the affected community.
Armed police remain stationed outside the hospital.