Six people were killed and eight injured when gunmen opened fire at a Quebec City mosque during Sunday night prayers, a shooting that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned and called a “terrorist attack on Muslims”.
Police spokeswoman Christine Coulombe told journalists that two suspects had been arrested, but gave no details about them or what prompted the attack.
Initially, the mosque president said five people were killed and a witness said up to three gunmen had fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre. Police said only two people were involved in the attack.
“Six people are confirmed dead – they range in age from 35 to about 70,” Coulombe said, adding eight people were wounded and 39 were unharmed.
Trudeau said in a statement: “We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge.”
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.”
“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.”
Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume appeared visibly shaken.
“No person should have to pay with their life, for their race, their color, their sexual orientation or their religious beliefs,” Labeaume said.
The mayor of Gatineau, Quebec, near Canada’s capital of Ottawa, said there would be an increased police presence at mosques around his city following the attack.
The New York Police Department said it was stepping up patrols at mosques and other houses of worship.
“NYPD is providing additional protection for mosques in the city. All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something,” New York City Mayor Bill Blasio said on Twitter.
“Our prayers tonight are with the people of Quebec City as they deal with a terrible attack on a mosque. We must stand together,” Blasio said in another tweet.
The shooting came on the weekend that Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended the U.S. refugee program and temporarily barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States on national security grounds.
French President Francois Hollande condemned “in the strongest possible terms” what he called the “odious attack” in Quebec.
“It’s the spirit of peace and openness of the people of Quebec that the terrorists wanted to hit,” said Hollande.
“France stands shoulder to shoulder with the victims and their families,” he added.