Canada stabbings: Police hunt for suspects after 10 killed in Saskatchewan attacks

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau described the attacks as ‘horrific’

Canadian police on Sunday said they were on the hunt for two suspects believed to have killed at least 10 people and injured 15 others in stabbings in the Saskatchewan province.

Police named Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson as the two suspects and said they were believed to be travelling in a black Nissan Rogue vehicle.

The stabbings were reported early on Sunday and police issued a provincewide dangerous persons alert. By the afternoon, similar alerts were also issued in Saskatchewan’s neighbouring provinces Alberta and Manitoba.

At a news conference Sunday afternoon in Regina, the provincial capital, Rhonda Blackmore, a commander with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said police were working with 14 crime scenes and that in addition to the 10 deaths and 15 injuries, there might be more victims, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.


Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau described the attacks as “horrific”. “The attacks in Saskatchewan today are horrific and heartbreaking. I’m thinking of those who have lost a loved one and of those who were injured,” he said in a tweet.

The attacks happened at multiple locations, including James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon in Saskatchewan. In the wake of the stabbings, the James Smith Cree Nation declared a state of emergency until September 30th, the CBC reported.

The first stabbings were reported at 5.40am and within three hours police issued a provincewide dangerous persons alert. By the afternoon, similar alerts were also issued in Saskatchewan’s neighbouring provinces Alberta and Manitoba.

Police bulletins urged people to report any suspicious people and to take precautions including sheltering in place, while warning against picking up hitchhikers or approaching suspicious people.

“Do not leave a secure location. Use caution allowing others into your residence,” one advisory said.

A police alert issued shortly after midday said they may be in Regina, one of the province’s largest cities, where a large police presence was already mobilised because of a Canadian football game at Mosaic Stadium near the centre of town.

However, Blackmore said it was unknown where the suspects might be headed or if they had changed vehicles.

“It is horrific what has occurred in our province today,” Blackmore said, calling the attacks one of the largest if not the largest in recent history in the province.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority activated an emergency response bringing in additional staff to treat to victims, later declaring it over as “the risk of a high influx of patient transfers due to this situation is no longer prominent.”

“We can confirm that multiple people have been triaged and cared for at multiple sites and that a call for additional staff to help respond to this situation has occurred,” the health authority said in a statement.

James Smith Cree Nation is an indigenous community with a population of about 3,400 people largely engaged in farming, hunting and fishing. Weldon is a village of some 200 people.

Indigenous people account for less than 5 per cent of Canada’s population of about 38 million and suffer from higher levels of poverty, unemployment and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians.

Trudeau said his government had been in direct communication with the James Smith Cree Nation leadership, adding, “we are ready to assist in any way we can.”

While the investigation is still in the initial stages, police were trying to determine the relationship between the two suspects and whether they were known to police. Police said the suspects’ direction of travel was unknown and that they may have switched vehicles.

Police said that some of the victims appeared to have been targeted by the suspects while others were attacked randomly.

A spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Health Authority in a statement said that the department had called for additional staff to help respond to the situation.

A statement by indigenous leaders indicated the attacks may have been drug related.

“This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. The group represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

A mother of two was among the 10 people killed, local media reported, citing the woman’s former partner.

“It’s sick how jail time, drugs and alcohol can destroy many lives,” Michael Brett Burns told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

In May, Myles Sanderson was listed as “unlawfully at large” by Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers, a programme that encourages the public to co-operate with police. There were no further details about why he was wanted. – Reuters/New York Times