Forty-nine people have been killed and at least 20 wounded in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the incident as a terrorist attack and one of New Zealand’s “darkest days”.
A man in his late twenties was charged with murder and will appear in court on Saturday morning, police confirmed.
Two other men and one woman were detained nearby and firearms seized, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
He said one of those detained was later released, while officers were working to understand if the other two were connected.
Police also found multiple explosive devices in a car belonging to one of the suspects.
The attack, which came around the time people were attending the mosques for Friday prayers, was the deadliest in the nation’s history.
A gunman live-streamed footage of his rampage to Facebook, filmed with a head-mounted camera. The footage showed him firing indiscriminately at men, women and children from close range inside the Al-Noor mosque.
Police called on the public not to share the “extremely distressing” footage online. Facebook said it had removed the gunman’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage.
The suspect who was charged appeared to have published a manifesto before the attack outlining his intentions, in which he identified himself as a 28-year-old Australian citizen and espoused far right and anti-immigrant ideology.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the man
The first report of an attack came from the Al Noor mosque, located in central Christchurch. Witnesses told local media they ran for their lives, and saw people bleeding on the ground outside the building.
A second mosque in the suburb of Linwood was evacuated, but there were fewer details from that site. Police also defused “a number of IEDs [explosive devices] attached to vehicles”, Mr Bush said.
as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist. Police Commissioner Bush confirmed that the man was not known in advance to either New Zealand or Australian security services.
New Zealand police said on Twitter that officers were in attendance at a property in the city of Dunedin in connection with the attack in Christchurch.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Ardern said in a press conference.
Authorities advised all mosques in the city to shut down until further notice. Armed police were also seen at Papanui High School in Christchurch, which was cordoned off.
Mr Bush said a number of firearms had been recovered from both shooting sites, and explosive devices were found in a car belonging to one of the suspects.