At least 40 people have died in separate attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the wake of the attacks, the nation’s Catholic Bishops have expressed their solidarity with the Muslim community.
By Vatican News
The attacks began in the early afternoon on Friday, when several people entered the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch and began firing on worshippers. The attack on the second mosque began a short time later. Police also found IEDs (improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs), attached to cars near the site of the attacks.
“It is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days”, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement following the attacks. Although she was unable to confirm the number of casualties, local media reported that at least 40 people were killed, and at least 50 people wounded. “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence”, the Prime Minister said.
Authorities said that four people – three men and one woman – were in custody in connection with the shooting, with news agencies reporting that one of the suspects was a white supremacist who may have posted his plans on social media.
Catholic Bishops express solidarity
Following the attack, the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand addressed a message to members of the Muslim community in New Zealand:
“We hold you in prayer as we hear the terrible news of violence against Muslims in mosques in Christchurch. We are profoundly aware of the positive relationships we have with Islamic people in this land, and we are particularly horrified that this has happened at a place and time of prayer. We are deeply saddened that people have been killed and injured, and our hearts go out to them, their families and wider community. We wish you to be aware of our solidarity with you in the face of such violence.”
The message concludes, “Peace, Salaam”, and is signed by all five Catholic Bishops of New Zealand.