New Delhi: In what appeared to be the worst attack against Muslims in a western country, at least 49 people were killed and more than 20 were critically injured when gunmen opened indiscriminate fire at two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city during Friday prayers. According to a report, 41 people were killed at the Al Noor Mosque near Hagley Park while seven lost their lives at the Linwood Avenue Mosque. One person died in hospital

“The shooters live-streamed shooting at Al Noor Mosque in a 17-minute video and wrote a manifesto declaring intentions, saying “it is a terrorist attack”, Christchurch Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, adding, “Four suspects including three men and a woman have been taken into custody.”

Bush further informed that one man in his late 20s had been charged with murder and the police had recovered a lot of firearms from both the Linwood Avenue and Al Noor Mosque shooting scenes.

Condemning the incident, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said,”This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. It is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack. From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspects’ vehicles have been found and they have been disarmed.”

She added,”These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world. It was obvious the attacks had been planned for some time.”

The government advised people not to go to mosques until further notice. All Christchurch schools were shut down.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh cricket team now touring New Zealand had a narrow escape as the entire team had gone to one of the mosques near Hagley Park for Friday prayers.  “They are safe. But they are shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel,” Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus told AFP.

In the aftermath, the Hagley Oval test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh cricket teams, which was scheduled to begin from tomorrow, stands cancelled. The cricket board of both countries confirmed that ‘the team members and support staff groups are safe’.