QUEBEC CITY, Jan 29 (Reuters) – The shooting at a Quebec mosque during Sunday night prays which reportedly killed five people was a “terrorist attack on Muslims,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge,” Trudeau said in a statement.
Five people were killed after gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque, the mosque’s president told reporters on Sunday. A witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre.
“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” said the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui.
Quebec police said there were many victims and deaths, but did not confirm the death toll. They said two people had been arrested, but there were no immediate details on the suspects.
A witness said a heavily armed police tactical squad was seen entering the three-story mosque. Police declined to say whether there was a gunman inside the mosque at the time.
Police tweeted later that the situation was under control and that the mosque had been secured and occupants evacuated.
Yangui, who was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred, said he got frantic calls from people at evening prayers. He did not know how many were injured, saying they had been taken to different hospitals across Quebec City.
“Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families,” Trudeau tweeted earlier in the night.
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 nations from entering the United States on national security grounds.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said police were providing additional protection for mosques in that city following the Quebec shooting. “All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something,” he tweeted.
Canada’s federal Liberal legislator Greg Fergus tweeted: “This is an act of terrorism — the result of years of demonizing Muslims. Words matter and hateful speeches have consequences!”