Forty people were killed Friday in a shooting incident in two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a "terrorist attack."
• Officials said that four people were in custody and that a number of explosive devices were found attached to vehicles that they had arrested.
• A Muslim leader in New Zealand said the attack was particularly shocking as it took place during Friday afternoon prayers. Police called on the country's mosques to "close their doors" and urged the population to stay away from the mosques until further notice.
• A video and a manifesto appearing to be those of an armed man involved in the shooting were put online on the day of the attack.
Two mosques are attacked
Shots were fired at Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue, near Hagley Park in the downtown area, and at Linwood Mosque, about three kilometers away, police said.
Ms. Ardern said at a press conference that 30 people were killed at Al Noor Mosque and 10 others died at the Linwood Mosque.
David Meates, chairman of the Canterbury District Health Board, said 48 people were being treated for gunshot wounds at the Christchurch hospital and other people were being treated at health facilities in the city. .
Police said four people, including three men and one woman, were arrested. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that one of them was Australian.
Ms. Ardern described the people arrested as being a principal, two associates and a person not directly related to the attacks. She said that none of them were on the watch lists.
Ardern described the shooting as a "well-planned" terrorist attack, saying the threat to national security had increased from the bottom up.
"Security is strengthened so that we can ensure the safety of people," she said.
The country's police commissioner, Mike Bush, urged people not to visit mosques in New Zealand on Friday.
He also urged mosques nationwide to close their doors, advising them to "close your doors until you hear from us."
Describing the situation as "very serious and serious," Bush said the police were mobilizing all national forces.
– CHARLOTTE GRAHAM-McLAY and MEGAN SPECIA
The video appears to show part of the shoot
A 17-minute video posted on social media seems to show some of the attack.
The clip, which may have been taken with the help of a camera helmet worn by an armed man, starts driving a car. A man, whose face is sometimes seen in the rearview mirror, crosses the streets of Christchurch before stopping in front of the Muslim Association of Canterbury and its adjacent mosque on Dean Avenue, next to the vast Hagley Park.
He then walks to the front of the mosque, his weapon visible, and starts shooting at people at the entrance. The following is painful, almost two minutes after shooting the faithful.
At one point, the armed man leaves the mosque and pulls back and forth on the sidewalk before returning to his car for another pistol – which, like the others, carried numbers, symbols or messages. When he enters the mosque, he fires several bodies at close range.
After a few minutes, he returns to his vehicle and goes away.
"There was not even time to aim, there were so many targets," he said at one point, while the sirens of an intervention vehicle d & rsquo; Urgency resounded in the background.
– MEGAN SPECIA and JASON BAILEY
A white nationalist manifesto
Before the shooting, someone who appeared to be the shooter publicly posted links to a white nationalist manifesto on Twitter and on the 8chan online forum. The 8chans message included a link to what appeared to be the shooter's Facebook page, where he also reportedly broadcast a live video of the attack.
The Twitter posts showed guns covered with the names of former military generals and men who had recently shot mass.
In his manifesto, he identified himself as a 28-year-old man born in Australia and enumerated his white nationalist heroes.
He described what he thought motivated him to carry out the attack and stated that he had deliberately used firearms to sow discord in the United States over the provision of the Second Amendment to the right to wear arms.
He is also declared a fascist. "For once, the person who will be called fascist is a fascist," he wrote in the manifesto, adding that China's "political and social values" were very close to his.
– DANIEL VICTOR AND TIFFANY MAY
Control of publications on social networks
In the last 18 months, technology companies have pledged to put in place stronger protection mechanisms to prevent violent content from appearing on their sites, especially during milestones.
But these new guarantees were not enough to prevent the broadcast of a video and a manifesto related to Friday's filming by various social media channels.
A 17-minute video apparently containing images of the shooting could be found on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram more than an hour after their publication. While Facebook and Twitter removed pages suspected of being linked to an armed man during the attack, the content that was posted there was already spreading rapidly in other accounts.
Dozens of versions of the video were found through a quick search for words and names related to an alleged gunman.
The country's police commissioner, Mike Bush, said social media publications "should not be in the public domain".
To escape the detection, it appeared that the video was cut off or that the text of the manifest was displayed as an image. These are techniques used to evade automated systems set up by social media to automatically search for and delete content.
Social media companies rely heavily on artificial intelligence to automatically search for and delete prohibited content. Companies have heavily invested in these systems, with Facebook reporting last year that more than 99% of the terrorist content of the Islamic State and al Qaeda had been discovered and removed by artificial intelligence.
A spokeswoman for Facebook expressed her condolences to the victims and said the company was working to prevent the release of any content likely to support the attack.
"The police alerted us to a video on Facebook soon after the start of the livestream and we quickly deleted the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as the video," said Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand.
She added that the company "also suppressed any eulogy or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we were aware of it".
– SHEERA FRENKEL and DANIEL VICTOR
An attack during Friday prayers
Mustafa Farouk, a spokesman for the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said that it was particularly shocking for Muslims that the attack occurred during Friday prayers at noon.
"It is Friday, when we are meeting normally for our prayers, no one has thought that this would happen," Farouk said during a phone interview.
Mr Farouk, who said he was about to travel to Christchurch to meet Muslims, said he had never imagined that such an attack could take place in New Zealand, that he called "good reputation".
"It is one of the most peaceful countries in the world," he added, although "this kind of random acts of violence will affect that image."
– MEGAN SPECIA
"One of the darkest days in New Zealand"
Mrs Ardern called Friday "one of the darkest days in New Zealand".
"What happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence," said the Prime Minister at a press conference in New Plymouth, describing the killing as "an act that does not happen". absolutely no place in New Zealand ".
"A lot of people affected can be migrants in New Zealand – they can even be refugees here," Ardern said of the victims. "They are one of us. The person who committed these acts is not.
"My thoughts, and all New Zealanders, I'm sure, go to the affected people and their families," added the Prime Minister.
– CHARLOTTE GRAHAM McLAY
"My very good friend is going there"
Aman Singh, who works in a convenience store near the Deans Avenue mosque, said he had heard the gunshots on Friday afternoon and that soon after, people had walked through the store in blood, crying.
Mr. Singh, 26, said he knew several people who worshiped at the mosque.
"My very good friend is going there," he said, adding that he had not been able to confirm his location Friday afternoon.
Mr. Singh, who had left India to settle in New Zealand four and a half years ago, was still hiding in the store with his wife, the police not having arrived yet. on site.
He added that they probably would not be able to return home anyway because their street had been cordoned off as it was near the Linwood mosque which had also been attacked.
– CHARLOTTE GRAHAM-McLAY
Lawmaker warns against "instinctive reaction"
Trevor Mallard, a Labor Party legislator and home president, said he was evacuated from the University of Canterbury, where he was with several other lawmakers to attend a student protest on climate change is part of a global movement.
Mallard called the shooting "absolutely horrible and unjust" and urged New Zealanders to oppose "any kind of thoughtless reaction".
"Security is constantly being studied and this will be taken into account," he said, although he added that he did not expect "massive, long-term changes" in security. in Parliament.
– CHARLOTTE GRAHAM-McLAY
Murders are rare in New Zealand, but guns are not
Murders are rare in New Zealand, and firearm homicides are even rarer. There have been 35 murders all over the country in 2017. And since 2007, firearm homicides have been committed to one digit each year except 2009, where there were 11.
But there are a lot of guns.
According to the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss non-profit organization, 1.2 million registered firearms were registered in the country, out of a total of 4.6 million residents.
A mass shootings in New Zealand in 1990 – when a man killed 13 people, including two aged 6, as a result of an argument with his neighbor in the seaside town of Aramoana – directly led to a tightening of firearms laws, including semi-automatic style weapons. "
Firearm owners must have a license, a process that includes a review of criminal activity and mental health, participation in a safety program, an explanation of the use of the firearms. gun, a home visit to ensure secure storage and testimonials from relatives and friends.
– DANIEL VICTOR
Bangladesh cricket players flee besieged mosque
One of the members of the Bangladesh National Cricket Team, who said that he and other members of his team had fled the mosque at the start of the shooting, tweeted about his escape.
The cricket player, Mushfiqur Rahim, thanked God for his safety and wrote: "We are extremely lucky … never want it to happen again … pray for us."
The team then confirmed on its own Twitter account that all members of the national team were safe, adding that "the Bangladesh Cricket Commission (BCB) is in constant contact with the players and the management of the team ".