(MSNBC) Scores of people were killed and three suspects were in custody after mass shootings during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed at a 4 a.m. ET press conference that 49 people were dead with dozens of others injured. Bush said a man aged in his late-20s had been charged with murder.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
Ardern described the incident as a terrorist attack, adding that it appeared to have been well-planned.
“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world,” she said.
Christchurch is a city of around 375,000 people.
New Zealand requires gun owners to have a firearms licence, which can be applied for by people as young as 16 years of age through their local police station.
Applicants must take a firearms safety test and are required to follow regulations on safe storage for any firearms they own.
Around 225,000 New Zealanders have such licences and own an estimated 700,000 to 1 million firearms, according to the New Zealand Council of Licensed Firearms Owners.