WELLINGTON: A gunman opened fire in a mosque in New Zealand on Friday and there were several casualties, media reported, after police deployed armed officers in response to shots fired in the center of Christchurch city.
The Bangladesh cricket team was in the vicinity of the shooting but all members were safe, a team coach told media.
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.
He said he also saw the gunman flee before emergency services arrived
Peneha said he went into the mosque to try and help: “I saw dead people everywhere.”
Other media reported that a gunman opened fire inside mosque in Christchurch’s Hagley Park. There were reports of armed police at a second mosque in the suburb of Linwood.People in center of the city should stay indoors, police said.
Police did not immediately comment on whether the incident took place in the mosque or nearby. There is no official confirmation on casualties.
Media said shots had been fired near a mosque and a witness told broadcaster One News that he had seen three people lying on the ground, bleeding outside the building.
Radio New Zealand quoted a witness inside the mosque saying he heard shots fired and at least four people were lying on the ground and “there was blood everywhere.”
“Horrified to hear of Christchurch mosque shootings. There is never a justification for that sort of hatred,” said Amy Adams, a member of parliament from Christchurch.
The Bangladesh cricket team is in Christchurch to play New Zealand in a third cricket test starting on Saturday.
Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach of the Bangladesh cricket team was quoted by the New Zealand Herald as saying that the team was close to where the shooting occurred, but was safe.
“The players are shaken up but fine,” Villavarayen was quoted as saying.