A man with a gun has opened fire at a mosque in New Zealand, reportedly injuring up to six people.
Witnesses reported they heard 20 shots and police are responding to the incident in Christchurch on the country’s South Island.
Police have urged people near the area to stay indoors and report suspicious behaviour, describing the incident as ‘critical’.
Mohammed Jama, the former president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, said a man with a gun entered the Christchurch Mosque about 1.40pm local time on Friday.
A witness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and saw ‘blood everywhere’.
He said four people were injured and that he saw two people lying on the ground. He did not know if they were alive or dead, Stuff reported.
The Bangladesh cricket team – who are currently on tour in New Zealand – were inside the mosque at the time of the shooting and were forced to flee for their lives, ESPN reported.
The shooting happened near Cathedral Square where thousands of children were protesting for climate change action.
The protesting children have been told to go home to ensure their safety.
Police officers were also seen at sports ground Hagley Park and at Christchurch Hospital.
New Zealand Police said armed officers have been deployed in the area.
A business owner near the mosque said a man who fled the area told him the shooting happened inside.
A witness said they heard at least 20 gunshots and saw three people lying on the ground.
Another witness said he saw a car chasing two people from outside the mosque along Deans Avenue.
He said the people in the car began shooting at the two people.
Christchurch Boys’ and Girls’ high schools have both been placed into lockdown.
Parents of students at Christchurch Girls’ High School were sent a text message telling them the lockdown was ‘not an exercise’.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her planned events for Friday afternoon in light of the shooting.
More to come