Women’s World Cup security heightened after deadly shooting in Auckland |

Security was boosted before the opening Women’s World Cup game after a shooting in Auckland, with a gunman killing two people at a construction site about 12 hours before co-host New Zealand’s match against Norway.

Norway’s team hotel is within a short distance of the shooting, which happened in the tourist area of the city near the harbour ferry terminal.

Captain Maren Mjelde said players were woken up by a helicopter hovering outside the venue.

“We felt safe the whole time,” she said in a statement. “Fifa has a good security system at the hotel and we have our own security officer in the squad.

“Everyone seems calm and we are preparing as normal for the game (at 8am UK time on Thursday).

Members of the Philippines Women’s World Cup squad walk to their team bus after a shooting near their hotel in the central business district in Auckland (Abbie Parr/AP)

Officials from Eden Park, where the game is being played after an opening ceremony for the tournament, encouraged fans to arrive at the stadium early.

“There will be an increased security presence within the precinct and across the venue. Additional traffic management measures are in place,” Eden Park said.

Fifa said a minute of silence would be held before the two opening games.

The shooting happened in the central business district (CBD) at the start of morning rush hour in New Zealand’s largest city.

The attacker had a shotgun, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Police arrived within minutes of the first emergency call and ran straight into harm’s way to save the lives of others, he added.

The gunman was found dead in a lift, acting police superintendent Sunny Patel said.

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony (Abbie Parr/AP)

In addition to the three dead, at least four others were injured, including a police officer who was taken to hospital in a critical condition but is now stable, New Zealand police tweeted.

“New Zealand Football are shocked by the incident in Auckland CBD this morning,” the team said in a statement.

“We can confirm that all of the Football Ferns team and staff are safe.”

Although Mr Hipkins said his attendance at the opening match was “under review”, he said the tournament would go on as planned.

“Clearly with the Fifa World Cup kicking off this evening, there are a lot of eyes on Auckland,” he said.

“The government has spoken to Fifa organisers this morning and the tournament will proceed as planned. I want to reiterate that there is no wider national security threat. This appears to be the action of one individual.”

Fifa issued a statement saying its president, Gianni Infantino, and secretary-general Fatma Samoura, are in constant contact with local authorities and participating teams in the vicinity.

Police interview construction workers after the shooting (Jason Oxenham/New Zealand Herald/AP)

Football’s world governing body “has been informed that this is an isolated incident that was not related to football operations and the opening match will proceed as planned”, Fifa said in a statement.

Tourism New Zealand cancelled a welcome party, which was due to be held on Thursday afternoon local time within the taped off area, which included many hotels housing participating teams.

The US women’s team hotel is also in the vicinity of the shooting and the team said in a statement it was “saddened by the inexcusable loss of life to gun violence and our thoughts are with the people of Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau and Aotearoa New Zealand”.

Jennifer Deering, a tourist from Florida, was initially shocked to learn of the shooting after a tour guide previously assured her that Auckland “was very safe here, other than some petty thieves”.

Then she went about her day.

“It’s sad that it’s normal for us (Americans) to see something like this on the news,” she said.

Construction workers shelter on a rooftop after the shooting (Michael Craig/New Zealand Herald/AP)

The month-long, 32-team tournament is being co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, where the final will be staged on August 20.

There are strict gun laws in both countries and deadly shootings are rare.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families in these difficult times. As a peace-loving nation, we stand with New Zealand in solidarity,” Football Australia’s head of marketing and communications Peter Filopoulos said.

“The situation seems to be contained now, thanks to NZ authorities. This incident is unrelated to the Women’s World Cup. Stay safe everyone.”

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