Parts of Christchurch is on lockdown and armed police have been deployed after receiving reports of shots fired in the city center at 1:40 p.m. Friday local time.
New Zealand police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains “extremely high.” Police have not confirmed deaths or injuries yet.
According to New Zealand news site TVNZ, the incident took place at a mosque on Deans Ave, near Hagley Park. There are also reports of another shooting at a different mosque in the area.
Speaking to CNN, witness Mohan Ibn Ibrahim said he was inside the mosque when the gunman opened fire.
“I was in the mosque. It’s a big mosque and there were more than 200 people inside. The gunmen came from the backside. Gunshots went on for a long time. We had to jump the wall to escape. I saw lots of broken glass and bricks on the backside of the mosque,” he said.
He said that he had a friend in another mosque in the area had told him a gunman had opened fire there as well and five people were dead.
A spokesperson at Christchurch Hospital told CNN that “multiple” casualties had been sent there, but did not confirm the number.
Police are aware of a video shared online and not verified by CNN that purports to show a gunman walking into an unnamed mosque and opening fire.
Witness Mohammed Nazir told TVNZ that he “heard the big sound, the gun” at about 1.45 p.m.
“The second shot, I run, lots of people were sitting on the floor,” he said. “The gun was (at the) front door, I run behind the mosque and I was sitting behind… and I called the police.”
According to TVNZ, Nazir saw multiple deaths and injuries, including three women on the ground outside the mosque.
Canterbury Police NZ tweeted: “We have a critical incident in Deans Ave Christchurch. Please avoid the area. We will give more in the near future.”
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement that “all Christchurch schools have been placed into lockdown.”
“Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behavior immediately to 111,” he added.
Christchurch City Council tweeted that it was locking down a “number of central city buildings, including the Civic Offices and Central Library.”
The Bangladesh Cricket team, who were visiting the city They weren’t inside the mosque. Their bus was just pulling up at the mosque when shooting happened.