TODAY |

Gunman intended to continue Christchurch attack before 'rural cops' made arrest - PM

The perpetrator of the Christchurch terrorist attack "absolutely" intended to continue the attack in which he had what appeared to be modified weapons, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this afternoon.

Ms Ardern also said that children were among the victims in yesterday's terrorist attack in two mosques that left 49 people dead. 

The Prime Minister told media in Christchurch the guns in the attack "appeared to be modified", meaning a "raft of issues" were on the table in upcoming gun law changes, not just a potential semi-automatic weapon ban. 

"The individual charged was in custody 36 minutes after receiving the first call," Ms Ardern said, and described the "two rural community cops from Lincoln" who made the arrest as having "put New Zealand first".

    Your playlist will load after this ad

    A man is in police custody after shootings at two mosques in Christchurch today. Source: Supplied

    "The offender was mobile... It absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack. The man is currently facing one count of murder but obviously there will be further charges laid."

    Prior to the press conference, Ms Ardern met with representatives of the Muslim community and family of the victims in yesterday's attack. 

      Your playlist will load after this ad

      It comes after the terrorist attack at two mosques left 49 dead. Source: 1 NEWS

      She said the focus of families was being able to access their loved ones.

      "Front of mind for them of course is fulfilling their religious expectations, that is burial.

      "I know this is a key concern for members of the community."

      Ms Ardern said specialists and local staff were "assisting to repatriate them with their loved ones in a way that is consistent with Muslim faith, while taking into account these unprecedented circumstances and their obligations to the coroner".

      She said police were working to bring the bodies out by the end of the day. "It is their hope. I'm told they're making good process."

      She said the sentiment that came through from religious leaders was that this was "not the New Zealand they know, this is not the New Zealand who welcomed them and that it is not a reflection of the New Zealand they know". 

      Questions turned to issues of security, with Ms Ardern saying Police Commissioner Mike Bush "advised security from police will continue at mosques throughout New Zealand until it is deemed there is no longer a threat".

      Local government was providing facilities so locals were able to continue their worship in Christchurch.

      Of the injured, 36 remained in hospital, 11 of those in ICU. 

      When asked about the people who had died in the attack, Ms Ardern said that "while I don't have a full break down of those caught up in this horrific attack... [victims] range in age from children, but I understand predominately from the age of 20-60."

      She said a large number of the victims were men. 

        Your playlist will load after this ad

        Ms Ardern also praised the police response during a media address. Source: 1 NEWS