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Gunshots have been heard near a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, local media report, as police warn of a “critical incident”.

Witnesses told local media that several people appeared to be injured inside the building. Police have warned people to avoid the area.

All schools in Christchurch have been placed on lockdown, police commissioner Mike Bush said.

Media reports say armed police are clearing buildings in the vicinity.

The incident is said to have taken place at the Al Noor mosque, located in central Christchurch along Dean Avenue facing Hagley Park.

Officers have reportedly also cleared Cathedral Square, where thousands of children were holding a rally for action on climate change.

There are reports that a second mosque has been evacuated.

A reporter following the Bangladesh cricket team, who are currently in New Zealand, tweeted that that had “escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters”.

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