QUEBEC CITY, CANADA: At least six people were killed and many others were injured when gunmen opened fire in a mosque while police in rapid action arrested two accused.
At the time of the shooting a few dozen people were inside the mosque. The incident occurred around 8 p.m. Police said two suspects had been arrested, but gave no more details into what prompted the “terrorist attack”, saying the investigation had just begun.
The attack comes as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to open its arms wide to Muslims and refugees after US President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban Friday sparked travel chaos and outrage around the world.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter: “Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families.”
Quebec’s prime minister, Philippe Couillard, said in a series of Twitter posts that the government was “mobilized to ensure the security of the people of Quebec”.
Prime Minister said: “We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge”.
The Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, which is also known as the grand mosque of Quebec, had already been the target of hate: a pig’s head was left on the doorstep last June during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.
Zebida Bendjeddou, who left the mosque earlier on Sunday evening, said the centre had received threats.
“In June, they’d put a pig’s head in front of the mosque. But we thought: ‘Oh, they’re isolated events.’ We didn’t take it seriously. But tonight, those isolated events, they take on a different scope,” she said.
Bendjeddou said she had not yet confirmed the names of those killed, but added: “They’re people we know, for sure. People we knew since they were little kids.”
Like France, mostly French-speaking Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them North African emigrants.