Police in Quebec City have arrested two suspects following a shooting at a mosque there, which killed six and wounded eight.
According to police, two gunmen opened fire in Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre around 8 p.m., where about 40 people were gathered for evening prayers.
In an early-morning press conference a Quebec City police spokeswoman gave no further details about the suspects, saying the investigation had just begun.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Province premier Philippe Couillard both described the attack as an act of terrorism.
The Associated Press reported Trudeau’s remarks:
“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge,” Trudeau said in a statement. “It is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country,” he added. “Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.”
“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui said to reporters, according to the AP.
Yangui was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred but said he received frantic calls from many who were inside at the time of the gunfire.
Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. The face-covering, or niqab, became a big issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, especially in Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supported a ban on it at citizenship ceremonies.
In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of the province was splattered with what was believed to be pig blood. In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris.
Last June, during the holy month of Ramadan, as the CBC reported, someone also left a pig’s head at Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, where Sunday night’s attack took place.
“Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City,” Trudeau said. “My thoughts are with victims & their families.”
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