News World Six dead, eight wounded in Quebec ‘terrorist’ shooting
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Six dead, eight wounded in Quebec ‘terrorist’ shooting

quebec shooting
Alexandre Bissonnette, a French-Canadian university student, is in police custody. Photo: Facebook
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UPDATE 6:46am

Six people are dead and eight wounded after gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, is the French-Canadian man arrested by police in relation to the shooting.

Another man who was arrested has been released, found to be a witness to the massacre and not a suspect.

A witness said up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre in the Canadian city.

CBC News has reported that the Quebec provincial police confirmed that six people died and eight were wounded in the attack.

“The situation is under control, the area has been made safe and the occupants (of the mosque) have been evacuated. The police investigation continues,” police tweeted earlier.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the shooting an act of terrorism in a prime ministerial statement.

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge,” Mr Trudeau said.

“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.”

Police declined to give details of any possible motives for the attack.

“Legal procedures are now underway and we cannot make any comment on the identity of the suspects,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police national security superintendent Martin Plante told a news conference.

He added that both men, were not previously known to police.

Police said they were confident there were no other suspects involved in the attack.

Witness reports suggested more shooters

Earlier, a witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre.

Quebec mosque shooting
Mosque regular Mohamed Oudghiri speaks with the media after the shooting. Photo: AAP.
“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui told reporters.

He did not know how many had been injured, saying they were taken to different hospitals across Quebec City.

Mr Yangui, who was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred, said he got frantic calls from people at evening prayers.

Mr Trudeau said on Twitter his thoughts were with victims and their families after the “cowardly attack”.

One of the suspects was armed with an automatic rifle, an AK-47, local newspaper La Presse reported. The incident happened at approximately 9pm local time.

The premier of the province of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, also posted to Twitter after the Quebec mosque shooting.

“Quebec categorically rejects this barbaric act of violence,” a translation of his French tweet read. “We stand in solidarity with the victims, the injured and their families.”

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a tweet he was “profoundly saddened by the loss of life and wounded”.

The shooting comes after Canada said it would offer temporary residency permits to travellers stranded in the country by President Donald Trump’s order banning travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations, the immigration minister says.

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

Mosque targeted in the past

In June 2016, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the cultural centre.

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 neighbouring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris.

Zebida Bendjeddou, who left the mosque earlier on Sunday evening, said the centre had received threats.

“In June, they’d put a pig’s head in front of the mosque. But we thought: ‘Oh, they’re isolated events.’ We didn’t take it seriously. But tonight, those isolated events, they take on a different scope,” she said.

– with agencies

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