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Quebec Mosque Shooting Leaves Canada in Shock | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Alexandre Bissonnette, a suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, is seen in a Facebook posting. Reuters

Quebec (Canada)- Six people were killed and eight wounded when gunmen opened fire at a Quebec City mosque during Sunday night prayers, in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”

A French-Canadian university student was the sole suspect in the shooting at the mosque and was charged with the premeditated murder of the six people.

“Six people are confirmed dead – they range in age from 35 to about 70,” Quebec provincial police spokeswoman Christine Coulombe told reporters, adding that eight people were wounded and 39 were unharmed.

Court documents identified the gunman in the attack as Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, and charged him with six murder counts and five counts of attempted murder with a restricted weapon.

A second man, Mohamed el Khadir, was initially identified as an additional suspect by Quebec officials.

Reuters reported earlier that one of the suspects was of Moroccan origin.

However, police later announced there was only one suspect in the attack, and Khadir was identified as a witness.

Prime Minister Justin 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.”

The premier of Quebec province, Philippe Couillard, said security would be increased at mosques in Quebec City and Montreal.

“We are with you. You are home,” Couillard said, directing his comments at the province’s Muslim community.

“You are welcome in your home. We are all Quebecers. We must continue together to build an open welcoming and peaceful society.”

French President Francois Hollande condemned the attack.

“The terrorists wanted to attack the spirit of peace and tolerance of the citizens of Quebec,” Hollande said in a statement on Monday.

“France stands shoulder to shoulder with the victims and their families.”

Like France, Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them from North Africa.

In June last year, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the cultural center.

U.S. President Donald Trump also called Trudeau to express his condolences “and offered to provide any assistance as needed,” said Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad.