At least 40 people were killed in an attacks on two separate mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that carried out by a group of four white supremacists on Friday, the Prime Minister said.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference hours after the killings.
Authorities arrested four suspects — three men and one woman — and recovered two improvised explosive devices on cars connected to the suspects.
“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand, and in fact have no place in the world,” Ardern said.
One of the suspects, an Australian man armed with a semiautomatic rifle, kicked off the orchestrated attack when he stormed into Masjid Al Noor mosque in the center of the city and opened fire on Muslims who were there for Friday prayers.
Ardern said 30 people were killed in the Masjid Al Noor massacre.
Another shooting happened a short while later at another nearby mosque in the city, where 10 people were slain. It was not clear if the same shooter carried out both attacks.
The gunman in the Masjid Al Noor attack livestreamed the mass shooting on Facebook, officials said. He also published a rambling manifesto filled with white supremacist ravings prior to the attack.
“From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned,” Ardern added at the press conference.
At least 25 people were also seriously injured in the mass shootings, Ardern said.