A man aged in his 20s has been charged with murder following the shootings at the al Noor mosque in central Christchurch and then the nearby Linwood mosque.

Three other people – two men and a woman – were also arrested after the attacks.

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At least 49 people have been killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and called the shootings a terrorist attack.

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Another 20 people were seriously injured, she said.

One man who was inside the al Noor mosque – the scene of the deadliest shooting – told local media that there would normally be dozens of people worshipping inside.

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The witness, whose clothes had been splattered with blood, said the shooting lasted for about 20 minutes and said the gunman methodically went from room to room.

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Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed one of the suspects was an Australian-born citizen.

The gunman filmed himself in his car before he carried out the attacks and also live-streamed the atrocity.

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Ms Ardern said the country had been placed on its highest security threat level.

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A man who claimed he was behind one of the attacks left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto.

At a news conference, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said a number of schools had been placed on lockdown, as well as the two mosques that were targeted.

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