The gunman who killed numerous worshippers in a New Zealand mosque on Friday was a right-wing “terrorist” with Australian citizenship, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“We stand here and condemn, absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” Morrison told a press conference.
He confirmed media reports that the gunman who mowed down worshippers in the main mosque in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch was an Australian-born citizen.
He said Australian security authorities were investigating any links between the country and the attack, but declined to provide further details about the Australian gunman.
An emotional Morrison offered his sympathies to Kiwis.
“We are not just allies, we are not just partners, we are family,” he said.
New Zealand police said they had detained three men and one woman after attacks on two Christchurch mosques, but they have not provided their identities.
“It is such a sad and devastating reminder of the evil that can be ever present about us,” Morrison said of the attacks.
Multiple fatalities were inflicted at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday when at least one gunman opened fire on worshippers forcing the city into lockdown as police launched a massive manhunt.
New Zealand media reported that between nine and 27 people were killed, but the death toll could not be confirmed. Police said multiple fatalities had occurred at two mosques, but it was unclear how many attackers were involved.
New Zealand police said they have detained four people and had secured a number of improvised explosive devices. “Four are in custody, three of them are men and one is a woman,” commissioner Mike Bush said, saying there were “significant” and “multiple” fatalities.
He said the suspected IEDs found attached to the attackers´ vehicles had been made safe by the military.