One 28-year-old male has been charged with murdered and is scheduled to appear in court Saturday. The death toll now rises to 49 after one person, who was being treated, succumbed to injuries, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed. Another 48 others are receiving treatment at the hospital.
Two improvised explosives, which were earlier disarmed, appear to have been attached to same vehicle, the police chief stated in the press conference and clarifying information that was previously disseminated by the prime minister.
One of the attackers is confirmed to be an Australian citizen.
Mosques across New Zealand will remain under police protection for the foreseeable future.
“We encourage members of the public to continue to contact family and friends through their own means to confirm their welfare,” the police said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a second press conference, confirmed that at least 40 people have been killed and some 20 others are in serious condition. The PM also stated, without reservation, that the incident is a well-planned attack of terrorism carried out by extremists.
Ardern further disclosed that two improvised explosives, that were installed on the suspects’ vehicles, had been disarmed. Four people have been held, but only three people are in custody in relation to the crime and are being questioned.
There are men, women and children among the fatalities. The suspects, armed with semi-automatic weapons, “were not on any watch list.”
The police have not ruled out that other suspects may exist, Ardern warned during the address. Flights have been canceled in and out of Christchurch.