Witnesses say several people have been killed and injured during a shooting in a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand.
New Zealand police tweeted as the officers responded to a "serious ongoing firearm event" around 1:40 p.m. Friday (8:40 pm Thursday ET). They said schools in the city had been put on lockdown and urged people to stay indoors.
Nearly two hours after the initial response, the police washed the situation "serious and developed".
"The police respond with their full capacity to handle the situation, but the risk environment is still extremely high."
There was no official word on accidents, but the witnesses said the Masjid Al Noor Mosque was full for Friday afternoon prayers and many people were dead.
Witness Len Peneha told the Associated Press he saw a man wearing black in the mosque and then heard dozens of shots followed by people driving from the mosque in fear. Peneha, who has lived near the mosque for about five years, said that the weapons ran out, released what seemed to be a semi-automatic weapon in Peneha's driveway and fled before emergency service arrived.
Peneha said he went into the mosque to try to help.
"I saw dead people everywhere," he said. "There were three in the corridor, at the door leading into the mosque and people in the mosque. It's incredibly nutty. I don't understand how anyone can do it for those people, for anyone. It's ridiculous."
"I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the corridor, at the door leading into the mosque and people inside the mosque. It's incredibly nutty. I don't understand how anyone can do it for those people, for anyone. "
Zayd Blissett, chairman of the Muslim Association of Marlborough, told Stuff.co.NZ that he received a text, FIANZ, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, saying "50 shots" on mosque.
"I'm just heartbroken," he said. "In fact, I'm sitting here crying. This is New Zealand. This can't happen here."
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A third witness, Mohammed Nazir, told TVNZ he saw three women shot and bleed outside the mosque. He told the police that he called the police climbed a wall to escape and left his shoes behind.
A witness who refused to give his name told Stuff, the weapons had a helmet and kicked more than 50 shots  "He had a big gun and many bullets and he came through and started shooting like everyone in the mosque, who Everywhere, and they have to crush the door and the glass from the window and from the little door to try to get out, he said. [ThewatchmanreportedthatthepolicehaddiscoveredabombinabeigeSubaruthatcrashedinthecenterofChristchurchabouttwomilesFromthemosquethepaperreportedthatthepolicehadshutoffthestreetandkeptasafedistancefromthevehicle
Christchurch, located on New Zealand's southern island, is the third largest city in the country with a population of over 400,000. hit a devastating earthquake in February 2011, killing 185 people and triggering the collapse of thousands of buildings across the city.
This is a developing story, check out back for more updates.  Associated Press contributed to this report.