Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that events in Christchurch represent "an extraordinary and nonsensical act of violence" and recognize many of the affected migrants and refugees. In addition to the dead, he said more than 20 people were seriously injured.
"It is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack," said Ardern.
Police arrested three men and a woman in custody after shootings, which surprised people across the country for 5 million people.
Authorities did not explain who they were detained. But someone who claims responsibility for shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he and his reasons for his actions. He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that one of the four arrests was a citizen Australian citizen.
Ardern at a news conference indicates an anti-immigrant feeling as a possible motive, saying that while many people affected by shootings may be migrants or refugees "whom they chose to make New Zealand their The man who maintained violence against us was not. "
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the police did not know the other suspects beyond four being detained but they are not certain.
"The attackers were caught by local police personnel. There was some complete action of courage," Bush said. "I'm very proud of the police personnel, the way they respond to this, but we do not suppose that the danger is gone."
Bush said the defensive forces rejected some improvised explosive devices attached to vehicles that stopped after the attacks.
He told anyone who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand on Friday should stay put.
There is a police presence in many scenes in Christchurch.
The deadliest attack occurred in the mosque of Masjid Al Noor in central Christchurch at about 1
Witness Len Peneha said that he saw a man dressed in black entering the mosque and heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque to fear.
The Peneha, who lives next to the mosque, said the archer ran out of the mosque, dropped out what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway, and fled.
She said that afterwards she entered the mosque to try and help.
"I saw dead people everywhere, three in the hallway, the door to the mosque, and the people inside the mosque," he said. "It's incredible nutty. I do not understand how anyone can do it to these people, to anyone. It's ridiculous."
He said he had helped about five people recovering from his home. He said that one was slightly damaged.
"I lived beside this mosque for almost five years and people are beautiful, they are very happy," he said. "I just did not understand it."
He said the gunman was white and wearing a helmet with one type of device above, giving him a kind of military form.
A video that seemed livestreamed by the shooter demonstrates an attack on horrifying details. The gunmen spent more than two minutes inside the burning mosque of terrified worshipers with bullets again and again, sometimes firing at the people he had cut.
He then goes out to the street, where he walks people on the sidewalk. The children's screams can be heard at a distance as he returns to his car to get another rifle.
The gunman is walking back to the mosque, where there are at least two dozen people lying on the ground. After walking outside and shooting a woman there, she returned to her car, where the "Fire" song of the English rock band "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" could have been heard exploding from the speakers. The singer speaks, "I am the god of hell!" and the driver expels. After the video is cut off.
There was a second shot at the Linwood Mosque Mosque that Ardern claimed to have killed 10 people.
Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald that he hears about five guns and a Friday who brings Friday prayers to a rifle or a gun.
Nichols said he saw the two wounded people who carried out the stretchers past his automotive shop and both people appeared to be alive.
The person claiming responsibility for the shooting said he had arrived in New Zealand to plan and train for the attack. He said he was not a member of any organization, but he donated and interacted with many nationalist groups, although he acted alone and no group ordered the attack.
He said mosques in Christchurch and Linwood would be targets, like a third mosque in Ashburton town if he could do it there.
He said he chose New Zealand because of its location, to show that even the furthest part of the world is not free of mass immigration.
New Zealand is generally regarded as a friendly country for immigrants and refugees. Last year, the prime minister declared that the country would strengthen the annual refugee quota from 1,000 to 1,500 starting in 2020. Ardern, whose party is competing with the promise to increase the use of refugees, called the planned increase "the right thing to do."
A cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh scheduled to start Saturday was canceled after a cricket team in Bangladesh had narrow escape.
Players and team coaching staff members were reported on their bus, approaching Masjid Al Noor mosque in Hagley Park when the shooting collapsed.
Batsman Tamim Iqbal tweeted "Whole team is saved from active shooters. Scary experience and please keep us in your prayers."
Mass shootings in New Zealand are so serious. The deadliest of modern history took place in the small town of Aramoana in 1990 when gunman David Gray shot and killed 13 people after a dispute with a neighbor.
ABC OTV has contributed to this report
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