WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Police said they were dealing with an active shooter in central Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday as local news reports said there were multiple casualties in an attack on one and perhaps a second mosque.
The police said the risk in the downtown area remained “extremely high.”
Shots were fired at a mosque near Hagley Park, and a second mosque on Linwood Avenue, also in Christchurch, was attacked, national public broadcaster Radio New Zealand reported.
The country’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, said all Christchurch schools have been put in lockdown, and residents of the city were urged to stay indoors.
The website Stuff reported that the police had cleared nearby Cathedral Square, the site of a rally to fight climate change.
Witnesses told local media they had seen multiple people injured. Police would not confirm local news reports that people had been injured or killed, and would also not confirm the location of the shooting.
The shooting happened a day after the country’s minister for climate change, James Shaw, 45, told the police that he was grabbed and hit on the street in the country’s capital of Wellington.
While the details of the shooting were still unclear, one purported witness, Mohammad Isam, a Bangladeshi journalist, posted a video of members of Bangladesh’s national cricket team who he said escaped the attack.
The video showed several men in the team’s jersey walking briskly through a park with the message, “Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval,” referring to the nearby cricket ground.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern canceled her events for the rest of the day after the shooting.
Reports of the shooting happened as young protesters were gathering in Christchurch and cities around the world to demand action on climate change.
Christchurch, with about 388,000 residents, is the biggest city on New Zealand’s South Island, hugging the Pacific Ocean coast.