Women's World Cup rocked by deadly shooting hours before tournament opener in New Zealand
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A gunman has killed two people in Auckland, New Zealand - hours before the city is due to host the opening match of the 2023 Women's World Cup.
Six other people, including police officers, were injured and the gunman is also dead after the shooting at a construction site in the central business district of the city, close to a fan park for the World Cup.
The tournament gets underway on Thursday when New Zealand, who are hosting the competition with Australia, take on Norway in the opening match at Eden Park.
Hours before the game was due to begin the centre of Auckland was placed into lockdown.
Police said they heard reports of a person discharging a pump-action shotgun inside a construction site on Queen Street, according to the BBC.
After making his way through a building on the site, the man went into a lift shaft and police attempted to engage with him.
Further shots were fired by the gunman and he was found dead a short time later, police added.
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the attack was not being viewed as an act of terrorism and confirmed the World Cup would go ahead as planned.
He said that police had neutralised the threat and that there was no ongoing risk to the public - adding that no political or ideological motive for the attack had been identified.
Hipkins thanked "the brave men and women of the New Zealand police who ran into the gunfire, straight into harm's way, in order to save the lives of others.
"These kinds of situations move fast and the actions of those who risk their lives to save others are nothing short of heroic".
Auckland mayor Wayne Brown later said all FIFA personnel and football teams were safe.
"I can't remember anything like this ever happening in our beautiful city. This morning's events have been tragic and distressing for all Aucklanders, as this is not something that we are used to," he posted on Twitter.
FIFA expressed its "deepest condolences" to the victims' families and said it was in communication with authorities in New Zealand.
"The participating teams in close proximity to this incident are being supported in relation to any impact that may have taken place," it said in an official statement.
Australia also get their tournament underway on Thursday with a match against the Republic of Ireland at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
England face Haiti in their opening game at Lang Park in Brisbane on Saturday.