New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed her condolences, following a shooting that left multiple people dead in central Christchurch on Friday afternoon.
“It is clear this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Ardern said in a press conference.
Police confirmed there were multiple casualties from a shooting at two mosques. Police initially responded to the first shooting at around 1:40 p.m. local time. Later on Friday, there were reports of a second shooting at a mosque.
Three men and one woman were taken into custody by law enforcement officers.
Law enforcement officers advised all nearby mosques to shut their doors until further notice. Schools and public buildings in the area were also placed on lockdown.
“People should have been expressing their religious freedom, where they should have been in a safe environment,” Ardern said. “And they have not been today.”
Ardern described the shooting as an “unprecedented act of violence, and an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand.”
There were up to 300 people inside one of the mosques for afternoon prayers, Radio New Zealand reported.
“Many of those who will have been directly affected by the shooting may be migrants to New Zealand,” Arden said. “They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home.”
“They are us,” she continued. “The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.”