“I’m saddened and strongly condemn the shooting of innocent people as they prayed peacefully in mosques in New Zealand”, tweeted the UN chef, expressing his “deepest condolences to the victims’ families”.
“Today and every day, we must stand united against anti-Muslim hatred, and all forms of bigotry and terror”, he stressed.
A gunman, who police have described as being in his late 20s, has been arrested and charged with murder. According to news reports, he live-streamed himself via a head-mounted camera online, firing at worshippers inside the Al Noor mosque in the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch. A second attack also took place at the city’s Linwood Mosque.
According to news reports, police have asked the public not to share the "extremely distressing" footage posted by the gunman online. Meanwhile Facebook has reportedly taken down the gunman's Facebook and Instagram accounts, which reportedly contained racist and anti-immigrant views.
Two other men and one woman were also reportedly detained in connection with the terror attacks, although one was subsequently released.
Other senior UN officials took to Twitter on Friday to express their condolences and horror at the attacks in New Zealand, António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration, extended his “sincere condolences” to victims’ families and expressed deep sadness over “the terrible loss of life”, pointing out: “It is believed that among the dead and injured were many refugees and migrants”.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, tweeted a picture of the New Zealand flag with a message saying that UNHCR stands “firmly with the people and government of New Zealand “in mourning, prayer and solidarity”.
“We grieve with children facing the profound shock that a parent is never coming home”, tweeted Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund. Saying “our hearts break with news”, she called the aggression “a senseless attack on a peaceful community and the universal right to freedom of worship”.