Deadly Christchurch mosque shootings: Police guarding Christchurch Hospital

Supplied photo

Multiple people have been killed by a gunman at two different mosques in Christchurch.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush this afternoon said there were multiple fatalities and that four people are now in custody.

He confirmed there were fatalities at two different locations - a mosque at Deans Ave and a mosque at Linwood Ave.

He said he was unsure if other locations were under threat or if other people were involved.

"We have mobilised every police resource in the Canterbury region to respond to this," Mr Bush said.

St John chief executive Peter Bradley told Checkpoint he could not confirm how many people had been injured.

"We have bullet wounds, we have abrasions, we have broken bones. People escaping from these very difficult situations."

A Canterbury District Health Board spokesperson has confirmed that there are multiple casualties at Christchurch Hospital.

They said no figures are available, as it is a fluid situation.

The spokesperson said doors are locked at all Christchurch Hospital campuses, including the main hospital, Burwood, Princess Margaret, and Hillmorton hospitals.

Police are guarding every door at Christchurch Hospital.

No patients are being accepted into the hospital unless it's a clear emergency.

A witness said a man wearing a military-style jacket opened fire inside the mosque on Deans Ave.

A worker at a childcare centre in the area believes at least 30 people could have been injured or killed.

The head of the Federation of Islamic Federations of New Zealand, Dr Mustafa Farouk, told RNZ that up to 500 people were inside the mosque.

Mr Farouk said he believes members of the Bangladesh cricket team may have been worshipping at the mosque at the time.

He said Friday is a big day for the mosque and there would have been between 300 and 500 worshippers there today.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board confirmed all members of the team are safe in Christchurch.

"All members of the Bangladesh cricket team in Christchurch, New Zealand are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city," the BCB's official Twitter account tweeted.

"The Bangladesh Cricket Board is in constant contact with the players and team management."

A witness earlier told RNZ they saw at least five people lying on the ground at the Deans Ave mosque.

"There was blood everywhere."

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said police are getting the situation under control but it is critical that people stay away from the central city until further notice.

"This is not something I would ever expect to see in the city and it's not something I would ever expect to see in New Zealand, so it is serious and they [police] are treating it seriously," Ms Dalziel told Checkpoint.

"I am very shocked by what I'm hearing but for me but the priority is getting the message out to people they have to stay safe, stay calm and to provide the reassurance that if they're inside a central city building they must stay there in order to stay safe."

Police are getting the situation under control, but it's critical that people stay away from the central city until further notice, she said.

"All council buildings in the central city are in lockdown and police are requesting central city building owners do the same.

"We're looking after some students who were at the climate change rally. They are safe here and we will keep them here until we are advised by the police they can leave."

She said she was unable to make any assumptions about an active shooter but urged people to stay calm and obey any instructions from police.

Students had come into the council building chanting about climate change which Ms Dalziel had also attended in Cathedral Square to receive a letter being sent to all civic leaders.

"They didn't know [about the shootings]... I was the one that had to tell them there'd been a serious incident and the police were asking them to stay put within the building and that was the advice I gave them.

"It has been nerve-racking for them. But the first piece of advice I gave them was to get on their mobile phones and text their familes and tell them they were safe ... so they're busy on their cellphones and talking to people. They're safe here."

She said there has been a lot of speculation on social media and news websites, but she could not confirm any of that, aside from there had been a firearms incident.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said clearly what happened is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.

"Whilst I cannot give any confirmation at this stage of fatalities and casualties what I can say is it is one of New Zealand's darkest days."

Ms Ardern said many of those who will have been directly affected by the shooting will be migrants and refugees.

"They have chosen to make New Zealand their home and it is their home. They are us."

"The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. there is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence which it is clear this act was," she said.

Ms Ardern has cancelled all events this afternoon.

Police are urging people in central Christchurch to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.

All schools in Christchurch have been put into lockdown.

Deans Ave has been closed between Moorhouse Avenue and Riccarton Road. Motorists are being advised to avoid the area.

The president of the international Muslim Association of New Zealand said his community was in shock.

Wellington-based Tahir Nawaz said the attack on the mosques in Christchurch was not something he ever thought would happen in New Zealand.

"New Zealand is known as a country with loving people and we have a peace and harmony with other religions and people. Having something like this is a big shock.

The Jewish community, and others from the area, have been in touch to offer help, and bringing flowers, Mr Nawaz said.

"They are extending a hand to help," he said.

More to come.