QUEBEC – Two men were arrested after six people were killed and eight were wounded in a shooting inside a mosque during evening prayers Sunday, in what Quebec’s premier described as a “murderous act directed at a specific community.”
Thirty-nine people escaped the Islamic cultural centre in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood without injuries, according to Quebec provincial police Sgt. Christine Coulombe.
Sgt. Coulombe said the people who died ranged in age from 35 to 70. The men were praying on the ground floor of the building, while women and children were upstairs.
A witness who asked to remain anonymous told Radio-Canada that two masked individuals entered the mosque and started to fire, and as they shot, they yelled, ‘Allahu akbar!’ The bullets hit people that were praying. “It seemed to me that they had a Québécois accent.
One of the men was arrested five kilometres from downtown Quebec City, following a police chase of the SUV he was driving.
Police called special technicians to where the chase ended, because they believed explosives may have been inside the SUV. Radio-Canada, CBC’s French-language service, reported a gun was found inside the vehicle.
Police are investigating whether the two men attended Laval University, a source close to the investigation told Radio-Canada. A search is underway at a home in Sainte-Foy.
As of now, police have labeled the shooting an act of terror, but they have not said by whom or for what motive. Authorities did not identify the two suspects they arrested or their ethnicity or religious identity, if any.
Police have erected perimeters and road blocks in other areas of Quebec City by police as part of their investigation.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the shooting should be treated as an act of terrorism.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.
Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said places of worship across the province have been placed under surveillance, with police deployed close to a dozen of them.
Both Montreal and Gatineau, Que., police said they also will increase security and surveillance.
Authorities are asking anyone with information into Sunday’s attack to contact Quebec provincial police