In an ironic turn of events, New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) snipers were training only a few miles away from the sites of the two mosque massacres that took place March 15th in Christchurch, New Zealand.

According to reports in New Zealand media outlets, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) was organizing a long-range shooting training event near Christchurch. The event was at a shooting range in West Melton, located approximately 15 miles west of the attacks. It included snipers from the NZSAS, the New Zealand Army, and the Australian Army, as well as some from undisclosed Asian countries.

Upon learning of the attack, the NZSAS operators deployed to the city during the search operation for Brenton Tarrant, the terrorist who killed 50 people and injured dozens more. One of the NZSAS operators was photographed, sniper rifle in hand and with his features masked behind a balaclava, standing next to a Special Tactics Group police officer; his picture is circulating throughout social media.

According to the New Zealand Herald, some special operators were deployed to a nearby high school after reports that it was also under attack. Further intelligence indicated these reports were inaccurate.