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49 Dead In Terrorist Attacks On New Zealand Mosques

A gunman carrying military-style weapons opened fire on two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, killing 49 people, authorities said, the deadliest mass shooting incident in the nation’s history.

“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” she said.

A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-migrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his motives. He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist.

The man posted video of part of the attack on social media. One portion of the video shows the man driving to a mosque and pulling military-style weapons — covered with writings in white — from the trunk of his car before walking up to the mosque’s entrance.Three men and one woman were in custody, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Friday afternoon. Later, he said one man had been charged with murder and will appear in court Saturday.

Bush added that police defused a number of improvised explosive devices found on vehicles after the attacks.

Police were mobilizing “every national police resource” to “keep people safe,” he said.

The police commissioner issued a plea directed at New Zealand Muslims: “I want to ask anyone that was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand today, not to go, to close your doors until you hear from us again.”

Many Muslims would have been going to mosques for Friday prayers.

Police rushed to the central part of the city after reports of gunfire at 1:40 p.m. local time, the New Zealand Police said on its Twitter Ten people were killed at a mosque near Hagley Park and 30 were killed at the nearby Linwood Mosque, the prime minister said.

Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the Masjid al Noor mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.

Peneha, who has lived next door to the mosque for about five years, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semiautomatic weapon in Peneha’s driveway, and continued running.

Peneha said he went into the mosque to try to help.

“I saw dead people everywhere,” he said. “There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque.

“It’s unbelievably nutty. I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”

Ahmed al Mahmoud told reporters he was inside the mosque when a gunman wearing military-style clothing, including a helmet, sprayed the interior with gunfire. Al Mahmoud, whose hand was bleeding, said in a video on a Christchurch news site that he and others escaped by breaking a window in a door.

Players and members of the Bangladesh cricket team were reportedly on their bus, approaching the Masjid al Noor mosque when the shooting started.

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