France steps up security near religious sites after New Zealand attacks

A police officer patrols at a cordon near a mosque in central Christchurch New Zealand Friday

Before Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history took place in 1990 in the small town of Aramoana, where a gunman killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbor.

"Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online", New Zealand police said in a statement. "We are working to have any footage removed", the New Zealand police said.

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison has since confirmed that one of those arrested was an Australian citizen.

Two improvised explosive devices were attached to a vehicle as part of the attack.

He said that he had a friend in another mosque in the area had told him a gunman had opened fire there as well and five people were dead.

"Then people started running out. Some were covered in blood", he said, adding that he joined the fleeing crowd and managed to escape. Several more people were killed in an attack on a second mosque in the city a short time later. He did not say whether police believed the same shooter was responsible for both attacks.

AFP has examined the footage, which has subsequently been taken down.

Ardern will be holding another press conference on Friday to speak on the matter, and has urged the public to stay indoors and follow police orders.

Entitled "The Great Replacement", the 73-page document said the gunman had wanted to attack Muslims.

Police, who initially imposed a city-wide lockdown, sent armed officers to a number of scenes.

An ashen-faced Ardern told reporters the attacks had been "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence".

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"New Zealand is one of the most peaceful, peace-loving and generous nations in the world".

She said she was not in a place to provide additional information beyond that. Seven people died at the Linwood mosque on Linwood Avenue, and one person died from their injuries in hospital. It is unclear where the remaining victim died.

Satellite navigational audio could also be heard in the video as the gunman drove to the mosque, which AFP tracked on Google StreetView showing his route for the two kilometres (1.2 miles) leading there.

"There were bodies all over", he said.

New Zealand is also generally considered to be welcoming to migrants and refugees.

- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the national security threat level has been lifted from low to high, adding the shootings appeared to have been a well-planned "terrorist attack". Friday is Islam's holy day.

Christchurch city council offered a helpline for parents looking for kids attending a mass climate change rally nearby.

He added: " Out of respect and in condolence for all those killed in the terrorist attack in New Zealand, I have asked for flags to be flown at half-mast".

"They were on the bus, which was just pulling up to the mosque when the shooting begun", Mario Villavarayen, team strength and conditioning coach, told Reuters in a message.

Nicola Sturgeon has joined leaders around the world in condemning the terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand which have left 49 dead.

However, anyone over 16 can apply for a standard firearms licence after doing a safety course, which allows them to purchase and use a shotgun unsupervised.

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