Several reported dead as gunman opens fire at Christchurch mosque

Several people are reported to have been killed in a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch. Police say a serious and evolving situation continues with an active shooter. Schools are in lockdown and people told to stay inside.

There are reports of a shooting at a second mosque as well.

A witness inside the Christchurch mosque said a man came in with an automatic rifle and shot people.

An armed police officer stands outside the Christchurch Mosque on Deans Ave following the shooting.Credit:Stuff

Witnesses said they heard "a bunch of shots" on Deans Avenue. The road was cordoned off about 2.20pm.

Eyewitnesses reported several have been killed, though officials have not confirmed this.

The emergency department at Christchurch Hospital had been cleared out. Hospital staff were expecting about 40 to 50 injured people.

A roadblock has been set up at the Aldwins Road and Linwood Avenue intersection.

Gunshots have been heard near the Christchurch Mosque on Deans Avenue. Credit:Stuff

About 20 armed police are clearing buildings in Linwood, across from Eastgate Mall.

Police are warning people to stay indoors and to report any suspicious behaviour to 111.

All Christchurch schools have been put on lockdown.

A man, who would not give his name, said he was praying in the mosque when he heard the shooting start.

He managed to escape, but outside saw his wife lying dead on the footpath.

“My wife is dead,” he said, wailing. He was supported by other Muslim men who prayed for him.

Another man said he saw children being shot.

Dozens of people were shot by a man wearing military uniform, who emptied at least two magazines.

“There were bodies all over me.”

A resident on Freyberg St said she heard “hundreds” of shots and it was “terrifying”.

The former president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Mohammed Jama, said a man with a gun went into the Al Noor Mosque mosque about 1.40pm on Friday.

He saw about four people injured and two lying on the ground. He did not know if they were alive or dead.

A photographer said he could see three seriously injured people on the doorstep of the mosque.

In a statement, police said they were responding to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch.

Police urged anyone in central Christchurch to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.

Police have cleared Cathedral Square, where thousands of children were rallying for action on climate change.

Armed police were also trying to clear Deans Avenue and Hagley Park. A large number of police were also reportedly at Christchurch Hospital.

A reporter at the scene said the mood was very tense. A lot of people were gathered around the mosque.

A nearby business owner said a lot of of people were praying at the mosque at the time.

"I heard 20 or more gunshots. I thought something happened and the people were running on the other side of Deans Avenue and now I can see so many police."

A man who ran from the mosque told him the shooting happened there.

The Bangladesh cricket team escaped the mosque.

Cricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent Mohammad Isam posted a video to Twitter of the team rushing through Hagley Park away from the mosque.

"Just escaped active shooters!!! Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere!! #ChristchurchMosque," he wrote.

Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach of the Bangladesh cricket team said the players were shaken up, but fine.

"I spoke to one of them shortly after [the incident]. They didn't see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground [Hagley Oval] and just started running.

"The coaching staff were all at the hotel. The players just started running when they heard the shots."

Bangladesh are due to play New Zealand at Hagley Oval on Saturday.

A New Zealand Cricket spokesperson said it was too early to know if match would go ahead.

One woman in the area said she was told by police there was a shooter in Hagley Park.

Another witness reported hearing at least 20 gunshots and saw what she thought was three people on the ground.

A witness said he saw two people walking out of the mosque. A car was chasing the people along Deans Avenue and the people in the car started shooting at them, he said.

A person at the scene said armed police were searching for someone in North Hagley Park. Two ambulances had arrived at the scene.

Christchurch Girls' and Christchurch Boys' high schools and Hagley Community College have been placed into lockdown.

Parents of Christchurch Girls' students were sent text messages about 2.05pm, which said: "This is not an exercise."

A witness at the scene said she heard a "bunch of shots" from a building on Deans Avenue.

She saw police on the corner of Lester Lane and Deans Avenue.

Christchurch Mosque on Deans Avenue., adjoining Hagley Park.Credit:Google Maps

They went outside the building, but police stayed them to stay inside.

"We heard police telling a gunman to put their hands up," she said.

More to come

Stuff.co.nz

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