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New Zealand mosques: Several dead after shootings in Christchurch

There are "multiple fatalities" after shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, police in New Zealand have confirmed.Three men and one woman are in custody, police commissioner Mike Bush told a news conference.

Witnesses told local media they ran for their lives, and saw people bleeding on the ground outside the Al Noor mosque.Authorities advised all mosques to shut down until further notice. All Christchurch schools are on lockdown.

In a statement to the nation, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said details were not yet clear, "but I can tell you now - this will be one of New Zealand's darkest days". It is not yet known how many shooters there were, but the Herald reports that one gunman is believed to be an Australian who has written a manifesto outlining his intentions. In it, he espouses far-right ideology and anti-immigrant ideology.

Unverified footage purportedly taken by the shooter has emerged, suggesting he filmed as he shot victims. Police called on the public not to share the "extremely distressing" material online.

A spokeswoman said Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) has activated its mass casualty plan, according to New Zealand news site Stuff.co.nz.The plan includes clearing emergency room space for casualties. The spokeswoman did not comment on how many patients were expected.Police earlier cleared Cathedral Square, where thousands of children were holding a rally for action on climate change.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said: "Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high. 

As well as the numerous witness reports of casualties, the Bangladesh national cricket team appear to have narrowly escaped the shooting.

A reporter following the team, who were due to play New Zealand in a now-cancelled test match on Saturday, tweeted that the team had "escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters". Player Tamim Iqbal tweeted that the "entire team got saved from active shooters".

Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus said most of the team had gone to mosque by bus and were about to go inside when the incident took place."They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel," he told the AFP news agency. (BBC)

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