UPDATE 3:37pm AEDT – NZ Police commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed officers have made four arrests in connection to this afternoon’s shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.
Three men and one woman are currently in custody following the shooting, in which “several” people died. The number of dead has not been officially confirmed by emergency officials.
Bush noted that there were some extraordinary acts of bravery from officers in apprehending the suspects.
Commissioner Bush also confirmed a car near the scene was discovered with “multiple IEDs” attached to it. New Zealand Defence Force officials subsequently disarmed the devices safely.
Bush would not confirm whether or not police were searching for additional offenders in connection to the shootings.
Bush also asserted that any and all footage of the incident was “not in the public interest.” Police are taking legal steps to remove it from social media. Bush pleaded with the public not to share or view the footage directly associated with the attack.
Schools and hospitals remain on lockdown.
EARLIER: New Zealand police have confirmed multiple fatalities have occurred at two separate mosques in Christchurch following a prolonged shooting incident this afternoon.
The shooting began at around 1:40pm local time at the Al Hoor mosque on Deans Avenue in western Christchurch. The second shooting is confirmed to have occurred at a mosque on Linwood Avenue on the eastern side of the Christchurch CBD.
Police confirmed they have one man in custody in relation to the incident. Police further clarified on social media that they are exploring the possibility that multiple offenders may have been involved.
2/5 however we can confirm there have been a number of fatalities. Police is currently at a number of scenes. We understand that there will be many anxious people but I can assure New Zealanders that Police is doing all it can to resolve this incident.
— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 15, 2019
Police could not confirm whether any areas outside of the lockdown area are under threat. Schools and hospitals in Christchurch remain in lockdown at the time of writing.
In a short statement, NZ Police commissioner Mike Bush asserted that “we are in the process of mobilising every national police resource to keep people safe.”
He also urged anyone in the area planning on attending a mosque today to stay at home, inside, with doors closed, until police issue further statements.
Multiple reports assert that the shooter may have live streamed the incident on social media.
The specific number of dead and injured has not been confirmed at this stage.
The Al Hoor mosque is Christchurch’s largest mosque. Several hundred people were reportedly inside the building at the time of the attack attending traditional prayer ceremonies.
The situation remains on-going.Image: AAP