An Australian politician has sparked outrage after blaming immigration for a terror attack at two mosques in New Zealand.

While he said he was “utterly opposed to any form of violence”, independent Queensland senator Fraser Anning claimed “what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence”.

He added in a statement: “As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but this is all cliched nonsense.

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“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration programme which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Senator Anning also claimed that while Muslims “may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators”.

A gunman broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, after publishing a “manifesto” in which he denounced immigrants.

Police declared a “critical incident” after the initial, deadliest attack began at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Deans Avenue – where up to 500 people are thought to have been worshipping – and warned residents an “active shooter” was in the area.

A second shooting then took place at a mosque on Linwood Avenue. Police urged mosques across the country to close their doors and worshippers to stay away.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand had been placed on its highest security threat level, and that three men and one woman, who held extremist views but had not been on any police watchlists, were in police custody.

She added that it was “clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack”.

Police commissioner Mike Bush confirmed one man in his late twenties has been charged with murder.


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