At least six people were killed and eight more are injured on Sunday evening when Muslim terrorists opened fire on them as they prayed in a mosque in Quebec City in an attack decried as ‘cowardly’ and ‘barbaric’.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack a ‘terrorist attack on Muslims.’
Earlier, a witness said that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 worshipers inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center around 8pm. Most of the people inside the building were men.
Quebec City Police have confirmed that two people have been arrested in connection with the attack but the investigation is ongoing.
Initial reports from CBC’s French-language service Radio-Canada suggest that as many as three shooters began firing.
Witnesses also said the masked shooters shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ in what sounded like a Quebecois accent.
The Canadian Prime Minister responded to the shooting on Twitter writing: ‘Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families.’
‘I’ve just spoken with Premier @phcouillard and am being briefed by our officials. We have offered any & all assistance needed.’
The deadly shooting unfolded following a weekend which has seen President Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim immigration ban’ spark widespread protests across America.
It sparked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to remark 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 perimeter and occupants have been evacuated according to Le Soleil.
‘There are many victims … there are deaths,’ a Quebec police spokesman told reporters.
‘Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,’ said the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui.
Mohammed Oudghiri normally attends the prayers but missed this Sunday. He is worried and is now considering moving back to Morocco.
He told the press: ‘We are not safe here.’
Quebec City Police later tweeted: ‘The situation is under control.’
In a later statement, Trudeau wrote: ‘It was with tremendous shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this evening’s tragic and fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec located in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of the city of Québec.’
‘We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge.’
‘On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of all those who have died, and we wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.’
‘While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.’
‘Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.’
‘Tonight, we grieve with the people of Ste-Foy and all Canadians.’
The mayor of Gatineau, Quebec said there will be heightened security at mosques in the city after the attack.
Other cities are upping security in light of recent attacks at Muslim places of worship. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter: ‘The awful attack in Quebec is not an outlier. Today, a mosque in Texas was burned to the ground. We must stop those who seek to divide us.’
‘NYPD is providing additional protection for mosques in the city. All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something.’