Officials in Canada called Sunday’s shooting at a mosque in Quebec City, in the French-speaking province of Quebec, a terrorist act, as local media reported that the death toll had risen to six.
Six people were killed and eight wounded in the incident, local broadcaster Radio-Canada reported, quoting provincial police. Two suspects were arrested, the broadcaster said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was quick to offer his condolences in a statement.
“It was with tremendous shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this evening’s tragic and fatal shooting,” he said.
“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge,” Trudeau added.
Gunmen opened fire during evening prayers at the mosque, in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood of Quebec City, about 7:55 pm (0055 GMT Monday).
Mohamed Yangui, president of the mosque, told dpa that he’d been asked to identify bodies at the morgue. He also said there was a large police perimeter around the Islamic Cultural Centre.
“These people go to their prayers peacefully every day but now some of them will never come back home from their prayers,” Yangui said in French. “I’m shocked, I don’t have words to describe how I’m feeling.”
The same mosque was targeted in June when a pig’s head was left on its doorstep, local media reported.
Trudeau said Sunday that Canadian law enforcement agencies “will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act.”
In a post on Twitter, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard also referred to the incident as a terrorist act and said he had asked the National Assembly, the provincial legislature, to fly flags at half-mast.
Couillard earlier had tweeted that the provincial authorities were mobilizing to assure the safety of Quebec residents.
“Quebec categorically rejects this barbaric violence,” he wrote. “We offer our solidarity to the loved ones of the victims and the injured and their families.”
Martin Coiteaux, Quebec’s public security minister, said that anti-terrorism police had been deployed.
Earlier, Quebec police spokesperson David Poitras confirmed that there had been fatalities and injuries as well as arrests following the shooting, but declined to give precise numbers.
“The situation is under control, the area has been secured and we have evacuated the premises of all occupants,” Poitras said. “The investigation continues.”
In his statement, Trudeau said Muslim-Canadians “are an important part of our national fabric.”
“While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence,” Trudeau said. “Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.” (DPA)
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