CHRISTCHURCH, March 15 - Mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers killed 49 people in New Zealand as authorities charged one person, detained three others and defused explosive devices in what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the events in Christchurch represented �an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence� and acknowledged many of those affected may be migrants and refugees. In addition to the dead, she said more than 20 people were seriously wounded.
�It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,� Ardern said.
Police took three men and a woman into custody after the shootings, which shocked people across the nation of 5 million people. One of the suspects was later charged with murder.
While there was no reason to believe there were more suspects, Ardern said the national security threat level was being raised to the second-highest level.
Authorities have not specified who they detained, but said none had been on any watch list. A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for the attack. He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that one of the four people detained was an Australian-born citizen.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said on Friday night that a man had been charged with murder. He did not mention the other three suspects and did not say whether the same shooter was responsible for both attacks.
Ardern at a news conference alluded to anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive, saying that while many people affected by the shootings may be migrants or refugees �they have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us.�
As for the suspects, Ardern said �these are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand.�
Bush said the police had found two improvised explosive devices in one car, a clarification from an earlier statement that there were devices in multiple vehicles.
He said they had disabled one and were in the process of disabling the second. The deadliest attack occurred at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1.45 pm. At least 30 people were killed there. � AP