At least 49 people have been killed and at least 20 injured in terror attacks at two New Zealand mosques on Friday, 15 March.
The shootings at Linwood Masjid Mosque and Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch took place during Friday prayers. Describing the horrific attacks, eyewitnesses said that they saw blood and bodies everywhere.
‘Never Seen Anything Like This’
Recounting the incident, 66-year-old Jill, who helped an injured man call his wife during the terror attack said that she never thought she would see something like this.
"I never thought in my life I would live to see something like this. Not in New Zealand,” the eyewitness told Bloomberg.
“I managed to get through the wife and told her that her husband has been shot outside the mosque. I told her to go to the hospital and wait for him. I also kept talking to him and telling him that his wife was at the hospital and he should not give up,” she said, tearing up.
‘Saw Dead People Everywhere’
Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.
Peneha, who lives next door to the mosque, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in the driveway, and fled.
Peneha said he then went into the mosque to try and help.
"I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque," he said. "It's unbelievable nutty. I don't understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It's ridiculous."
He said he helped about five people recover in his home. He said one was slightly injured.
“I’ve lived next door to this mosque for about five years and the people are great, they’re very friendly,” he said. “I just don’t understand it.”
He said the gunman was white and was wearing a helmet with some kind of device on top, giving him a military-type appearance.
‘Could Hear Screaming, Crying’
A man in a wheelchair, Farid Ahmed spoke to news outlet TVNZ about the shooting at the Al Noor mosque.
“Suddenly the shooting started. It started in the main room...I was in the side room, so I didn’t see who was shooting but I saw that some people were running out to my room where I was in, I saw some people had blood on their body and some people were limping. It was at the moment I realised things were really serious,” he said.
He said that the gunman had done his massacre inside the mosque and that he could hear screaming and crying.
“I could hear screaming and crying, I saw some people drop dead, some people were running away,” Ahmed said.
A witness who heard about five gunshots at the suburban Linwood Masjid Mosque said two wounded people were carried out on stretchers, reported AP.
A Palestinian man in the mosque, who did not want to give his name, said he saw a man shot in the head, reported AFP. “I heard three quick shots then after about 10 seconds it started again it must have been an automatic no one could pull a trigger that quick,” he told AFP.
"Then people started running out. Some were covered in blood."
Another man said he saw children being shot. "There were bodies all over me," he said.
An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with "blood everywhere".
‘Attacker Fired At least 40 Shots’
Ahmad Al-Mahmoud told Stuff.co.nz that the gunman was wearing army-style clothing, and a helmet.
"He [had] a big gun, and a lot of pellets, and he came through and he started shooting everyone in the mosque, like everywhere," he said.
“And they had to smash the door, the glass in the window and the small door, and everyone tried to get out — so we were trying to get everyone to run away from the area.”
He said the attacker fired at least 40 shots and that he seemed to have many more pellets, possibly more than a hundred.
‘Blood Was Splashing on Me’
Ramzan Ali, who was inside the Al Noor mosque during the shooting, said he was the last man to come out of the mosque, reported Newshub, a news outlet in New Zealand.
“The Sheikh was giving the sermon on Friday prayers and it was 1:42 [pm] and the gun starts shooting and he just came in and he was shooting ad hoc,” he said. “The guns started... He just came in and was shooting. I actually didn’t see him, I was just lying down on the bench thinking ‘if I get up I’ll get shot’,” he recounted.
He said he was the last person to come out of the mosque after the shooting had stopped and that he could see many bodies around him.
"The blood was splashing on me and I thought 'oh my God, what's going to happen to me now? But fortunately I'm alive,” Ali said.
Janine Richmond, another witness who lives near the mosque, said she heard about 20 gunshots, reported New Zealand media.
‘Saw That They Looked Like Muslims, They Fired’
Mahmood Nassir, a witness told AP that they (people in the mosque) jumped fences, hid under cars and ran to the back doors just to save themselves. He said that when the firing stopped, he looked from over the fence to see the shooter changing his gun and taking the other one out.
Nassir said that his wife and 4-year-old child was inside the mosque. He has, however, got the news that his family is safe.
When asked about how he feels about his place of worship being attacked, he said that bad people don’t know the difference between the good and the bad.
“I just heard the news that my friend, Mr Yasir, his father is on visit here. They were coming in a car from the side street just looking at parking and those guys they're firing from the car and his father got two bullets, one here and one somewhere else, he's in the hospital. He was not even in the mosque. They just saw him, they look like you know Muslims, they just fired."
(With inputs from AFP, AP, ABC News and stuff.co.nz)
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