CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the death toll has increased to 49 in shootings at two mosques.
Bush told a news conference that a man has been charged with murder and will appear in court tomorrow. He would not say whether the same shooter was responsible for both attacks. Police earlier said four people had been taken into custody, and one had been identified as Australian. However, Bush didn’t mention the other suspects at the news conference.
A man who earlier claimed responsibility said he was a 28-year-old Australian and described anti-immigrant motives in a 74-page manifesto.
Bush also clarified that police had found two improvised explosive devices in one car. He said they had disabled one and were in the process of disabling the second.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the shootings appear to have been a well-planned “terrorist attack.”
She said earlier Friday that migrants and refugees appeared to be most affected by the shootings.
Ardern said New Zealand’s national security threat level has been lifted from low to high . That is the second-highest level. She said authorities had no reason to believe there were more suspects, but “we are not assuming that at this stage.”
National carrier Air New Zealand has canceled at least 17 flights in and out of Christchurch, saying it couldn’t screen customers and their baggage following deadly shootings at two mosques.
The airline said some smaller planes traveling on regional routes were canceled while larger jet planes would continue landing and taking off due to security screening processes already in place.
Typically, passengers on smaller turboprop aircraft traveling to or from Christchurch don’t go through security screening and are able to walk right onto the plane.
(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)