Two gunmen stormed an Islamic center in Quebec City and opened fire killing at least six people and wounded eight others Sunday, police said
Two suspects in the shooting were arrested, Quebec City police spokesman Constable Pierre Poirier said. Their identities haven’t been released.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the shooting, calling it a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”
“It was with tremendous shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this evening’s tragic and fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Quebec located in the Ste-Foy neighborhood of the city of Quebec,” he said in a statement.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.”
Le Journal de Quebec reported that the gunfire started at the Islamic center at around 8 p.m. There were approximately 40 people attending prayer service at the time of the shooting. The center’s president Mohamed Yangui said the shooters reloaded at least three times.
According to the Le Soleil newspaper, one of the arrested suspects was 27 years old and had a “Quebecois name.” The paper also reported that one of the suspects was armed with an AK-47.
One witness, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Radio Canada, a Canadian Broadcasting Company French-speaking outlet, that the two gunmen were masked.
“It seemed to me that they had a Quebecois accent. They started to fire, and as they shot they yelled, ‘Allahu akbar!’ The bullets hit people that were praying. People who were praying lost their lives. A bullet passed right over my head,” the person said.
An unidentified man looking for his friends, who were regular attendees of evening prayers, told Le Journal de Quebec, “I’ve tried to reach them, but I cannot. It’s terrible.”
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard called the shooting a “terrorist act.” later Sunday. He expressed solidarity with the victims’ families.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Twitter Sunday that he was deeply saddened by the loss of life. His office says no motive had been confirmed.
The CBC reported that someone left a pig’s head on the mosque’s doorstep this past June, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Islam’s holy book, the Koran, forbids them from consuming pork.
“We were told that it was an isolated act, but today we have deaths,” Yangui told reporters. “It is minutes and hours of terror and anguish.”
In the U.S., the NYPD said in a statement that officers have been told to give “special attention” to mosques in the area. Police said they were monitoring the situation in Quebec.