CHRISTCHURCH - The death toll from attacks on two mosques of New Zealand's Christchurch rose to 49 and 48 others were wounded, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said on Friday.
Police said they have arrested four suspects so far.
Among the four, one is woman and three are men. Local police have also found and neutralised a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attached to vehicles.
At least two gunmen opened fire at two separate mosques in Christchurch, according to local media. Witnesses described that there are much blood and multiple deaths. At least 50 rounds of gunshots were heard during the shooting, said one witness.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to the public at 4:00 pm local time. She said: "This is one of New Zealand's darkest days. My thoughts are with Christchurch."
"It is an unprecedented violence in New Zealand. There is no place for such extreme violence in New Zealand."
According to reports, a gunman in camouflage uniforms opened fire inside the Masjid Al Noor mosque full of prayers in central Christchurch during the afternoon praying time.
The Bangladesh cricket team was about to enter the mosque when the shooting occurred, so the team members fled safely.
Local media also reported another shooting at a second mosque on a Christchurch suburb.
People are recommended by the police to stay indoors. All mosques nationally are urged to shut their doors, and people are advised to refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.
Armed police have been deployed. Local streets and schools are locked down.
Christchurch airport operates as normal.
Chinese Consul General in Christchurch Wang Zhijian told Xinhua that emergence response has been activated. No casualty of Chinese citizen has being reported yet.
The Consulate General office is working with local police to further check if there is any Chinese citizen being caught in the gunfire.