"My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy."
YouTuber PewDiePie has said he is “absolutely sickened” after he was named by the gunman who live streamed the brutal shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
At least 49 people are confirmed dead after gunmen opened fire in two mosques in a coordinated series of terrorist attacks.
One of the gunmen, named locally as Australian Brenton Tarrant, referenced the YouTube star as he began a Facebook stream of the shooting.
“Remember, lads, subscribe to PewDiePie,” he said, name-checking the popular Swedish online star.
The stream then appears to show Tarrent brandishing a semi-automatic rifle, before walking towards the mosque in Deans Avenue, Christchurch, where he opened fire.
PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, wrote on Twitter: “Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person. My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
It’s believed that shots were first heard near the mosque at 1.40pm local time (12.40am GMT) before police immediately responded.
Another shooting occurred at a mosque in Linwood Avenue, about two miles east of the first location.
In a statement, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern described the shooting as one of the country’s “darkest days”.
“Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” she said.
“For now, my thoughts and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families.”
YouTube has also vowed to remove any violent footage of the shooting.
“Our hearts are broken over today’s terrible tragedy in New Zealand,” YouTube confirmed in a statement.
“Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage.”