Muslim worshippers have told of the horrifying moments a gunman opened fire on them during Friday prayers at their mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
One witness, Farid Ahmed, said he hid under a bench and pretended to stop breathing as the gunman “changed magazines seven times”.
“I knew I had no chance,” Mr Ahmed said.
“The mosque is in a few different compartments so he went through all the compartments and he shot everyone.”
Another witness, Ramzan, said the imam had just started his sermon when “suddenly we heard the shooting”.
“Some people were running out to the room where I was in,” Mr Ramsan said.
“When I saw blood that was when it was confirmed it was a shooting.”
They were performing Salatul Jumaah at New Zealand Mosque in the city Of #Christchurch , 40 of Muslims died in a shootout inside a mosque by machineguns.
Ya ALLAH keep us save from the enemies of ISLAM
— Muhammad Zaid Bajwa👨✈️🇵🇰 (@mzaidbajwa11) March 15, 2019
So far, it has been confirmed 41 people have lost their lives at the Masjid Al Noor mosque and a further seven people were killed at a second mosque, Linwood Masjid, in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch.
A person being treated at Christchurch Hospital has also been confirmed dead, bringing the death toll to 49.
A survivor from the Linwood shooting, Khaled Al-Nobani, told The New Zealand Herald how the gunman entered the mosque with two weapons and “started shooting everyone”.
He told how one man attempted to take the gun from the shooter.
“One guy he jump for him, try to take the gun from him. He shot him straight away. I try to follow him, but I can’t,” he told the Herald.
Worshipper Al-Nobani said he saw a friend of his and his five-year-old daughter were on the street, approaching the mosque to pray.
“He is in the hospital, she is in the hospital,” he said.
LIVE: Survivor describes hero who tried to take down gunman https://t.co/7aZMLD3vhQ
— nzherald (@nzherald) March 15, 2019
Another survivor of the Al Noor Mosque shooting described how he ran for his life as the gunman began shooting.
Noor Hamzah, 54, told The New Zealand Herald when the shooting began he ran outside with scores of others and hid in the mosque car park.
When police later entered the building, Mr Hamzah said he could see “piles of bodies” through the mosque windows.
Sabir Hussain told NZ media that he was praying when the imam stopped proceedings and said: “Our brothers have been shot.”
Hussain said when the shooting started, he kept down and went into the wash and storeroom where he saw a man dead outside.
He said he knew he “was not safe”, jumped out of the window and hid behind a fence until police arrived, he told Stuff.co.nz.
Another witness Mohammed Nazir said he heard shooting near the main entrance of the building, which prompted “everyone to run and save themselves”.
“I can’t really remember because of the tension … and fear because my wife and my four-year-old were inside,” Mr Nazir told New Zealand media.
“We saw many injured, people with bullets in their arms … one woman was just lying on the road … a lot of people died.”
Asked whether he felt sick that something like this had happened in his place of worship, Mr Nazir said “bad people can be anywhere, this is not a matter of religion or society”.
Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, who survived the shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque, described the gunman as wearing a military-style outfit and a helmet.
In an interview with news site Stuff.co.nz, Mr Al-Mahmoud said he “ran away” as the gunman fired “over 50 pellets” and appeared to be carrying “hundreds” of rounds.
A mass shooting in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday afternoon targeted hundreds of worshippers at the Masjid Al Noor mosque near Hagley Park and another mosque on Linwood Avenue during Friday prayers.
DEATH TOLL AND INJURIES:
At least 49 people have been killed and 48 injured. Several hundred people were worshipping at the mosques.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE:
Australian man Brenton Tarrant has been charged. Altogether, New Zealand police have taken four people into custody – three men and one woman. It remains unclear if more people were involved.
A number of car bombs were disengaged by military personnel. Schools went into lockdown for a few hours and people were urged to stay indoors. Worshippers have been urged to stay away from mosques and police asked all mosques across the country to shut their doors.
LIVE STREAM OF SHOOTING:
A gunman streamed his attack live and the 17-minute video has been shared on social media. Police have urged users not to share the distressing footage and they are working to have any videos removed.