Ardern responds to 'extreme and unprecedented' Christchurch mosque attack
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Ardern responds to 'extreme and unprecedented' Christchurch mosque attack

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has condemned the attacks on two Christchurch mosques as "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" that "has no place in New Zealand society".

Ardern was speaking to reporters in the regional city of New Plymouth shortly before boarding a flight back to Wellington where she would be further briefed on the unfolding situation.

Jacinda Ardern speaks to press about the shooting at a Christchurch mosque.

Jacinda Ardern speaks to press about the shooting at a Christchurch mosque. Credit:Taranaki Daily News

She said that, while she could not give any confirmation on the number of fatalities or casualties, "what I can say is that it is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days".

"Clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence," she said.

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The Prime Minister said her thoughts and those of all of New Zealanders were with the victims and their families, many of whom would be migrants and refugees who chose to make New Zealand their home.

"I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders are with those who have been affected and also with their families. My thoughts also to those in Christchurch who are still dealing with an unfolding situation.

"Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand. They may even be refugees here.

"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 NZ. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented acts of violence, which it is clear this act was."

Asked if she would describe the attack as a "hate crime", she responded: "I would describe it as an unprecedented act of violence, an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are."

Ardern said she was not in a position to give any further detail about the individual in custody or their motivations, although she did comment on the fact that people attending a mosque were targeted.

"Certainly, it has occurred in a place where people should have been expressing their religious freedom. Where they should have been in a safe environment. And they have not been today.

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"The people who were the subject of this attack today, New Zealand is their home. They should be safe here. The person who has perpetuated this violent act against them, they have no place in New Zealand society."

Ardern said she intended to provide further public comment once she had been briefed by police in Wellington.

Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a writer and editor at Daily Life.

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