QUEBEC, CANADA: Five people were killed after armed men opened fire in a mosque in Quebec City during evening prayers, the president of the mosque told reporters Sunday.
A Quebec police spokesman confirmed that there were people killed, but did not say how many. He added that two suspects in the shooting were arrested. The police did not rule out the possibility of a third suspect who had fled the scene. The motive of the attack was not immediately clear. The police installed a perimeter around the mosque.
Earlier, a witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen shot at about 40 people inside the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City.
“Why is this happening here? It’s barbaric,” said the president of the mosque, Mohamed Yangui.
The Prime Minister of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, said in a series of Twitter messages that the government was “mobilized to ensure the safety of the Quebec people.”
“Quebec categorically rejects this barbaric violence,” he wrote. “Solidarity with the Quebecois people of Muslim faith.
In June 2016, a pork head was left on the threshold of the cultural center.
Yangui, who was not inside the mosque during the shooting, said he received frenzied calls from people to evening prayer. He did not know how many were injured, saying they had been taken to various hospitals in Quebec City.
Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in recent years in Quebec during a political debate on banning the niqab, or Muslim coverage. In 2013, the police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of Quebec was splashed with what was believed to be pig blood.
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In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, one day after an attack by armed men and suicide bombers in Paris.
The attack occurs as Canada promised to open its arms to Muslims and refugees after US President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban on Friday triggered chaos and outrage in the world Whole.
Canada will offer temporary residence permits to people stranded in the country as a result of Trump’s order, the Ministry of Immigration said on Sunday.
Canada hosted more than 39,670 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and early January 2017, according to government figures.