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40 killed in New Zealand after gunmen attack mosques

Forty people have been killed and several others injured in shootings at two mosques in New Zealand‘s city of Christchurch in an unprecedented attack in the quiet country in the Pacific.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that 20 people were in a serious condition after the “terrorist” attack. 

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said four suspects, including a woman, were in custody.

Sam Clarke, a reporter with TVNZ, spoke with several people inside the Masjid Al Noor mosque when the shooting began. He told Al Jazeera a man entered with an automatic weapon and began firing.

“A gunman – dressed in black with a helmet carrying a machine gun – came into the back of the mosque and started firing into the people praying there,” said Clarke.

Police patrol outside the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch [Mark Baker/AP]

Dressed in black

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 – who lives next to the mosque – said he went into the building to try and help. “I saw dead people everywhere.”

One man in the mosque, with blood stains all over his clothes, said he hid under a bench as the shooting took place. He said about 50 people were inside the building. 

Clarke said some worshippers managed to escape through windows and doors but “many people had been hit, some as young as 16”.  

About 10 to 15 people were seen outside the mosque, “some alive, some dead”, he said. 

“It was unbelievable. I saw about 20 people, some dead, some screaming,” one eyewitness told local television.

“I saw on the floor so many bullet shells, hundreds. I saw one guy trying to run out and he was shot dead.”

Read more from Source: Al Jazeera

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