40 dead in New Zealand mosque shootings

An injured person is loaded into an ambulance following a shooting at the Noor mosque in Christchurch New Zealand

An injured person is loaded into an ambulance following a shooting at the Noor mosque in Christchurch New Zealand

In New Zealand, a gunman killed 49 persons and injured 20 in attacks at two mosques killing 49 people and seriously injuring 20 others in the Christchurch city.

One has been identified as a male in his late 20s has been charged with murder and is expected to appear in court tomorrow.

The shooter, Australian man Brenton Tarrant, 28, told his Facebook Live stream viewers just before opening fire on two mosques, to 'subscribe to PewDiePie'.

French authorities have stepped up security measures near religious sites after deadly attacks against two mosques in New Zealand left 49 people dead, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Friday. In other forums, people discussed Muslim food restrictions as they prepared to drop off meals for those affected. "Two explosive devices attached to suspects' vehicles have been found and they have been disarmed".

The Bangladesh cricket team - which had been in Christchurch for a test match against New Zealand that was later cancelled - all escaped without injury.

One of the major flashpoints for the community in recent years was the reproduction in 2006 by New Zealand newspapers and TV stations of cartoons considered blasphemous by Muslims.

Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald he heard about five gunshots and that a Friday prayer-goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.

A Palestinian man who was in one of the mosques said he saw someone being shot in the head.

He describes himself as "a private and mostly introverted person" and admits he is racist, adding that he is an "Eco-fascist by nature". It is the busiest day for many mosques around the world when Muslims convene for Friday prayers.

He has been described by Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison as an "extremist right-wing violent terrorist".

"I saw dead people everywhere".

In what appeared to be the worst attack against Muslims in a western country, witnesses spoke of victims being shot at close range, with women and children believed to be among those killed.

One man, with blood still on his shirt, said in a television interview that he hid from the gunman under a bench and prayed that he would run out of bullets.

Mass shootings in New Zealand are rare.

In 2010 and 2011 the city suffered a series of devastating earthquakes, with the most destructive at 6.3 magnitude, which killed almost 200 people and destroyed thousands of buildings.

Home to almost 400,000 people, Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand's South Island.

Just 1% of New Zealand's population of nearly five million are Muslim, according to government statistics, less than 50,000 people in 2013.

"That (earthquake) brought all the skyscraper buildings down and this is one of the reasons why people are fearful, I feel", he told CNN.

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