According to the New Zealand Herald, four people are in custody after gunmen opened fire at the mosques in the city of Christchurch.
- A male in his late 20s has been charged with murder and is due to appear at a Christchurch court on Saturday morning.
One man outside the mosque said that he prayed that the gunman would "run out of bullets".
In 2010 and 2011 the city suffered a series of devastating earthquakes, with the most destructive at 6.3 magnitude, which killed almost 200 people and destroyed thousands of buildings.
Christchurch, a relatively small city in the south of New Zealand, hit global headlines in 2011 when it was struck by a deadly natural disaster.
A man who earlier claimed responsibility said he was a 28-year-old Australian and described anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook New Zealand, Mia Garlick, said videos that appeared to show the Christchurch shootings were quickly taken down.
She said the focus of New Zealand's security agencies have been monitoring extremism "regardless of where it comes from".
"I've lived next door to this mosque for about five years and the people are great, they're very friendly", he said.
Forty-one of those slain were at the Masjid al Noor in central Christchurch, police said.
She added: "Today, at mosques across Scotland and elsewhere, Muslims will attend Friday prayers".
New Zealand's threat level has now been raised from low to high.
- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of those arrested was an Australian citizen and described the suspected attacker as an "extremist right-wing violent terrorist".
The police commissioner warned anybody who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand on Friday to stay put. "Two explosive devices attached to suspects' vehicles have now been found and they have been disarmed", Ardern said in a televised address. "At that moment, I realised it was really serious", the man said.
Ardern said New Zealand was not a target because it is a safe harbour of those who hate, nor because New Zealand condones racism or is an enclave for racism.
The gunman said he was not a member of any organization, acted alone and chose New Zealand to show that even the most remote parts of the world are not free of "mass immigration". It is the second most-populous city in New Zealand behind Auckland and Wellington. Ardern, whose party campaigned on the promise of raising the intake of refugees, called the planned increase "the right thing to do".
The Bangladesh cricket team - which had been in Christchurch for a test match against New Zealand that was later cancelled - all escaped without injury.
Christchurch, sometimes called the Garden City, has been rebuilding since an quake in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed many downtown buildings.
The shootings took place at two separate mosques in the Canterbury region of the city. "Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers".
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