New Zealand police deployed armed officers in central Christchurch on Friday after reports shots had been fired, police said, and witnesses at a mosque told media of many casualties. People in the centre of the city should stay indoors, police said. Police officials did not immediately comment on whether the incident took place in the mosque or nearby.
Follow below for live updates (all times in GMT).
2.55am update: A witness shares his experience with local media – “He did his massacre inside the mosque.”
A man who was at the mosque during the attack told news outlet TVNZ he hasn’t seen his wife, who was also in the mosque this morning, since the shooting.
The man, who is a wheelchair, gave a chilling account of the event.
He said: “It was very peaceful, calm and quiet, as it is when the sermon starts, you could hear a pin drop.
“Then suddenly the shooting started. It started in the main room.
“I was in the side room, so I didn’t see who was shooting but I saw that some people were running out to my room where I was in, I saw some people had blood on their body and some people were limping. It was at the moment I realised things were really serious.
“So I tried too get out and I pushed myself at the back where my car was, and from there I heard the shooting, it went on six minutes or more, I could hear screaming and crying, I saw some people drop dead, some people were running away, I was in a wheelchair, so I couldn’t get anywhere.
“He did his massacre inside the mosque.”
2.43am update: Local hospitals prepare for up to 50 causalities amid council building being put on lockdown
Christchurch City council said in a statement: “In response to a serious ongoing incident we’re locking down number of central city buildings, including the Civic Offices and Central Library.”
A number of local schools are also in a state of lockdown as people are urged not to travel within the vicinity of the city centre.
2.30am update: RECAP on events – witnesses tell of ‘blood everywhere’ in horror shooting
The gun attack happened at 1.40pm local time (0.40am GMT) during afternoon prayers.
Up to 300 people were inside the mosque when the shooting began according to reports.
Some members of the Bangladesh cricket team were filmed fleeing the scene.
A witness told Stuff NZ he had seen four people lying on the ground and “blood everywhere”.
The Bangladesh team’s Tamim Iqbal Khan wrote: “Entire team got saved from active shooters.
“Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.”