Six people are killed and eight more wounded in a ‘terrorist attack at a Quebec City mosque
Six people were killed and eight more injured after gunmen opened fire on them as they prayed in a mosque in Quebec City last night in an attack branded 'cowardly' and 'barbaric'.
Witnesses claimed the masked attackers shouted 'Allahu akbar' in what sounded like a Quebecois accent as they went on the rampage at the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center at around 8pm.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the mass killing as a 'terrorist attack on Muslims'.
Earlier, a witness said that up to three gunmen had burst in to the mosque, firing on about 50 worshippers. Most of those inside the building were men praying on the ground floor while women and children were upstairs, it has been reported.
Police have arrested two people but the investigation is ongoing. One suspect was detained at the mosque and the other was caught after a chase that ended near l'île d'Orléans around 15 miles from the scene.
'Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families,' Trudeau wrote on Twitter.
'I've just spoken with Premier Philippe Couillard and am being briefed by our officials. We have offered any and all assistance needed.'
This morning, one of the victims was named as Abdelkrim Hassen, a married father of three who worked in IT for the government.
The deadly shooting unfolded following a weekend which has seen President Donald Trump's divisive and controversial 'Muslim immigration ban' spark widespread protests across America. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had insisted that his country remains open to all immigration.
He tweeted: 'To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.'
A large number of heavily armed police responded to the scene and according to local media the president of the mosque said that dozens were injured. Police have secured the peremeter and occupants have been evacuated according to Le Soleil.
'There are many victims … there are deaths,' a Quebec police spokesman told reporters.
Québec Sgt. Christine Coulombe said the victim's ages range from 35 to 70.
Earlier, a witness told CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada suggest that as many as three shooters began firing. About 39 people are said to have escaped unharmed.
Police put up a security perimeter around the mosque and initially declined to comment to reporters about the incident.
'Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,' said the mosque's president, Mohamed Yangui. The motive for the attack is not yet clear.
Ali Hamadi said he left the mosque a few minutes before the shooting. He said his friend and co-worker Abdelkrim Hassen, who worked in IT for the government, was killed. He said Hassen has three daughters and a wife. He got the neighbor to bring the wife to the hospital so she could hear the news.