new zealand shooting

Toronto police monitoring local mosques following New Zealand attack

A deadly mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand is prompting law enforcement officials to step up security efforts at mosques and other places of worship around the world this morning.

At least 49 people were killed and 20 more were seriously injured while praying at two separate mosques in the city of Christchurch around noon local time on Friday. Video footage from the attack was broadcast live as it unfolded by an Australian gunman whose published 74-page dossier has been described as a racist "work of hate."

Calling the tragedy a "well-planned terrorist attack," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is only one of many world leaders who've expressed concern for the safety of Muslim peoples following the incident.

"What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence," said Ardern in a statement on Friday. "It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities—New Zealand is their home—they are us."

Five people have been arrested in connection with the attack, but police remain unsure as to how many others may have been involved. All flights coming into or out of Christchurch have been temporarily cancelled as a result, and New Zealand's terrorism threat level has been raised to "high."

Canada's threat level remains unchanged, but public officials are on high alert given the similarity of this attack to others targeting Muslims in our country's recent history.

"Far too often, Muslims suffer unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

"Canada condemns this attack, and will continue to work closely with New Zealand, our close partner and friend, and others to take action against violent extremism," he continued.

"Hate has no place anywhere. We must all confront Islamophobia and work to create a world in which all people—no matter their faith, where they live, or where they were born—can feel safe and secure."

Police forces around the GTA are taking precautions in the wake of these attacks to ensure that local Muslims are safe and feel comfortable during prayer gatherings.

York Region police are monitoring the Baitul Islam Mosque in Maple by helicopter today, according to CP24, though officers say that no place in the area has been targeted or threatened.

Police in Peel and Durham Regions are similarly stepping up uniformed patrols around mosques ahead of Friday's weekly prayer.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders announced Friday morning that officers would be "visiting mosques and other places of worship, to ensure everyone's safety" within the city.

A vigil will be held for victims of the New Zealand terror attack this evening around 6 p.m. at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square.

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