UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the international community to "stand united against anti-Muslim hatred" and all forms of bigotry and terror following the terrorist attacks at two mosques in New Zealand that left at least 49 dead and many others wounded.
"I'm saddened & strongly condemn the shooting of innocent people as they prayed peacefully in mosques in New Zealand. I express my deepest condolences to the victims' families. Today and every day, we must stand united against anti-Muslim hatred, & all forms of bigotry & terror," the UN Chief tweeted.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, the Secretary-General said he is "shocked and appalled" at the terrorist attack at the two mosques in Christchurch.
He extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of New Zealand.
"The Secretary General recalls the sanctity of mosques and all places of worship. He calls upon all people on this holy day for Muslims to show signs of solidarity with the bereaved Islamic community," his spokesman said.
Guterres reiterated the urgency of working better together globally to counter Islamophobia and eliminate intolerance and violent extremism in all its form. The 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. 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 allegedly contained racist and anti-immigrant views.
Two other men and one woman were also detained in connection with the terror attacks, although one was subsequently released. President of the General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa strongly condemned the terror attacks against two mosques, saying, "This heinous act of extreme violence against a house of worship is an abhorrent crime."
She stressed that more must be done to combat intolerance, hate speech and extremism for the sake of humanity, her spokesperson Monica Grayley told reporters. Other senior UN officials took to Twitter on Friday to express their condolences and horror at the attacks in New Zealand.
Director General of the International Organization for Migration Antonio Vitorino extended his "sincere condolences" to victims' families and expressed deep sadness over "the terrible loss of life", pointing out that "it is believed that among the dead and injured were many refugees and migrants".
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted a picture of the New Zealand flag with a message saying the 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 Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund Henrietta Fore, calling the aggression "a senseless attack on a peaceful community and the universal right to freedom of worship".