- Security will be heightened at New Zealand mosque’s for the Islamic holy month
- Fears remain high following the Christchurch mosque massacre on March 15
- Ramadan is considered the holiest month by Muslims and turnout will be high
Security will be heightened at mosques across New Zealand with armed police standing guard throughout Ramadan following the Christchurch massacre.
Ramadan, is expected to begin on Monday, May 6 and continue through to June 4, is considered the holiest month by Muslims.
Fears have been raised since 50 worshippers were killed when a gunman stormed two mosques in Christchurch on March 15.
Baitul Muqeet Mosque imam Shafiq ur Rehman told NZME security at mosques will be at ‘unprecedented levels’ this year to ensure worshippers can focus on prayer.
Armed police have been guarding mosques throughout the country since the terror attack.
However, after the terror level was downgraded last week to ‘medium’ officers had left some of the sites.
Imam Shafiq ur Rehman said police would return next month and remain onsite throughout the Islamic holy month.
‘Where there was a feeling of insecurity after the events of Christchurch, I hope the believers … will feel more secure with the presence of the armed police at the mosque gates and they can be more focused in prayer.’
A spike in numbers of people visiting mosques has been predicted as people want to show solidarity with Muslims since the attacks.
A New Zealand police spokeswoman said for operational reasons they not be go into specific deployment and security information.
However, she said they would continue to have staff at potential risk sites where appropriate, carrying out a range of security and visibility measures.
‘These sites may include churches, synagogues, mosques and major events.
‘While we have no information to suggest any specific risk to public safety at this time, our advice to the public continues to be that they should remain vigilant and to report any suspicious or concerning behaviour to Police by calling 111.’
TIMELINE OF TERROR: HOW THE CHRISTCHURCH MASSACRE THAT CLAIMED 50 LIVES UNFOLDED
A 28-year-old Australian man entered a mosque in central Christchurch on Friday afternoon and opened fire on people gathered inside the building – killing 50 people and leaving dozens more injured.
This is how the incident unfolded in local New Zealand Time on March 15.
1.40pm: First reports of a shooting at a mosque in central Christchurch.
A man entered the mosque with an automatic weapon and opened fire on people inside.
2.11pm: Police confirmed they were attending an ‘evolving situation’ in Christchruch.
Gunshots are heard in the area outside Masid Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue.
Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots, with one saying she attempted to give CPR to an injured person but they died.
2.17pm: Multiple schools went into lockdown in Christchurch.
People who were in the mosque began to leave covered in blood and with gunshot wounds.
2.47pm: First reports of six people dead, three in a critical condition and three with serious injuries.
2.54pm: Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the situation is ‘serious and evolving’ and told people to remain indoors and stay off the streets.
The Canterbury District Health Board activated its mass casualty plan.
3.12pm: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cancelled her afternoon arrangements.
3.21pm: Christchurch City Council locked down many of their central city buildings.
3.33pm: First reports of a bomb in a beige Subaru that crashed on Strickland Street, three kilometres from the shootings.
3.40pm: Police confirmed there were multiple simultaneous attacks on mosques in Christchurch.
3.45pm: Reports of multiple shots fired at the shootings, which are ongoing.
3.59pm: 300 people were reported to be inside the moque.
4.00pm: One person is confirmed to be in custody but there are warnings there may be others out there.
Police commissioner Mike Bush urges Muslims across New Zealand to stay away from their local mosque.
4.10pm: Jacinda Ardern calls Friday ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’.
5.27pm: First reports of a second shooting.
A witness said a Muslim local chased the shooters at the mosque in Linwood, firing in ‘self defence’.
5.31pm: Four people are confirmed to be in custody. including one woman.
Multiple fatalities were reported.
7.07pm: It was confirmed an AR15 rifle was used in the attack.
7.20pm: Dunedin Street was cordoned off.
Reports the attackers planned to also target the Al Huda Mosque.
7.26pm: At least 40 people were confirmed dead, Jacinda Ardern confirmed.
7.34pm: Confirmed that 48 people were being treated in hospital.
7.46pm: Britomart train station in central Auckland was evacuated after bags were found unattended.
The bags were deemed not suspicious.
8.35pm: New Zealand’s Government confirmed this is the first time ever the terror level has been lifted from low to high.
9.03pm: Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirms that the death toll has risen to 49.
Brenton Tarrant was later charged with murder, and the death toll rose to 50.