49 people have fallen victim to two coordinated and “well-planned” attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. The gunmen opened fire on two mosques on Friday during evening prayers.
4 people - 3 men and a woman - have already been taken into custody. One of them is confirmed to be a 28-year-old Australian citizen. He is believed to have live streamed one of the shootings on Facebook, before turning the camera to himself and charging with the attack.The video has since been taken down but it is believed to have circulated on Facebook, Youtube, and other platforms.
The man’s Facebook profile featured a link to a lengthy manifesto about the attack. The document is predominantly racist and white-supremacist, contains hate speech, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric, as well as references to “white genocide” and white supremacists who had carried out similar attacks in the past.
It is also believed that the manifesto and the link to the live stream were posted on the controversial Website 8chan prior to the attack to ensure more viewers would be alerted on time.
Authorities advise not to watch and share the distressing footage.
Meanwhile, mosques in New Zealand remain under police surveillance and are expected to shut their doors until their safety is ensured.
No information is yet available on the identities of other suspects, apart from the citizen of Australia who has already been charged with murder. New Zealand's Prime Minister says the detainees had not featured on international watchlists.
The attack, according to the suspect was carried out to “directly reduce immigration rates to European lands” and could be seen as another attempt to fuel racist and Islamophobic sentiments.
Furthermore the fact that the attack was live-streamed before being taken down from social media is alarming: it has become relatively easy to communicate in the language of blatant violence and attract potential viewers.
Updates to follow
*Picture taken from Dailymail