Québec mosque attack suspect charged with six murders

Justin Trudeau condemns ‘terrorist’ assault on Canadian Muslims by lone-wolf gunman

Six people have been killed and eight wounded after a reported three gunmen opened fire on a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers. Video: Reuters

 

A French-Canadian university student is the sole suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque and had been charged with the premeditated murder of six people, Canadian authorities said late on Monday.

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau called the incident “a terrorist attack”.

Court documents identified the gunman in the attack on Sunday evening prayers as Alexandre Bissonnette.

He was also charged with five counts of attempted murder, according to court papers.

Among the six men killed were a butcher, a university professor, a pharmacist and an accountant, according to police and Canadian media.

Police declined to discuss possible motives for the shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec.

“They consider this a lone-wolf situation,” a Canadian source familiar with the situation said.

In Washington, US government security experts were leaning to the view that the gunman most likely was motivated by hatred for Muslims.

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A man of Moroccan descent who had also been arrested was now considered a witness, the Canadian source said.

Personal message

Mr Trudeau, who has made a point of welcoming refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, told the House of Commons in Ottawa: “Make no mistake, this was a terrorist attack.”

He added a personal message to Canada’s one million Muslims: “Know that we value you. You enrich our shared country in immeasurable ways. It is your home. Last night’s horrible crime against the Muslim community was an act of terror committed against Canada and against all Canadians.

“We will grieve with you. We will defend you. We will love you. And we will stand with you.”

Sombre parliamentarians observed a moment of silence.

The attack was out of character for Québec City, a city of just over 500,000 which reported just two murders in all of 2015.

Mass shootings are rare in Canada, where gun control laws are stricter than in the United States.

In addition to the six killed, five people were critically injured and 12 were treated for minor injuries, a spokeswoman for the Québec City University Hospital said.

US president Donald Trump called Mr Trudeau to express his condolences “and offered to provide any assistance as needed,” said Mr Trudeau’s spokesman Cameron Ahmad.

Over the weekend, Mr Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, his response to an executive order by Mr Trump on Friday to halt the US refugee programme and to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

‘Remain vigilant’

Vigils were planned for Montreal and Québec City, the provincial capital, as well as in Edmonton.

There was an outpouring of support for the mosque on social media. Citizens for Public Justice, a group of Canadian Christians, churches and other religious congregations, expressed their solidarity with the Muslim community of Québec City.

“Last night’s shooting, targeting people of faith during their worship and prayer, is a deplorable attack on all Canadians and our most deeply-held values,” the group said. – (Reuters)