New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed everyone’s worst fears: At least 40 people are presumed to have lost their lives, and 20 more have been seriously injured, in today’s horrendous terrorist attacks at two Christchurch mosques.
Ardern fronted media a short time ago to confirm the death toll – the first official confirmation of casualties since the attack began earlier this afternoon.
30 people are confirmed to have been killed inside the Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue in Christchurch’s west. A further 10 people were killed at the Linwood Avenue mosque on the eastern side of the city, 7 inside the mosque and an additional 3 outside the building.
JUST IN: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says 40 people are dead and more than 20 are seriously injured after two shootings at mosques in the country. https://t.co/3j6nibpVT7 pic.twitter.com/7zEpixtG3S
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 15, 2019
Ardern asserted in the strongest terms that “it is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.” She also confirmed that the four people arrested in connection to today’s terrorist attack were not previously on any terror or security watch-lists. The Prime Minister stated authorities did not believe there were any other suspects beyond the four currently in custody.
The New Zealand Prime Minister condemned those behind the act, giving “the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this,” and stating strongly “you may have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you.”
Ardern also commented on the spread of images and footage related to the incident on social media, asserting “we should not be perpetuating, sharing, giving any oxygen to this act of violence and the message that sat behind it.”
The Prime Minister also offered strong words in defence of a currently hurting New Zealand: “This act is not a reflection of who we are as a nation. this isn’t who we are.”
In an earlier press conference, Ardern labelled todays events as “an unprecedented act of violence” and asserted it was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously confirmed that one of the suspects is an Australian-born citizen.
The investigation into today’s shocking terror attack remains on-going.