Five dead in ‘barbaric’ shooting at mosque in Quebec City: reports
Postmedia News and The Canadian Press
January 29, 2017 11:28 PM ET
Multiple gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers, killing at least five people and injuring several others.
The president of the mosque told Postmedia News that he received a call about the mass shooting around 8 p.m.
“This is a terrible event,” Mohamed Yangui said. “We’re in a state of shock, I can’t find words to describe it.”
Yangui said five people were killed and many others injured.
ALICE CHICHE/AFP/Getty ImagesCanadian police officers respond to a shooting in a mosque at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec in Quebec city on Jan. 29, 2017. Two arrests have been made after multiple people were reportedly shot dead.
He said between 60 and 100 men, women and children regularly attend evening prayers at Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. The mosque has about 5,000 members and is one of six in the Quebec City region.
Last June, worshippers at the same mosque discovered the severed head of a pig left in front of one of the doors, wrapped in cellophane with bows and ribbon, and a card that said “bonne appétit.”
The incident took place during Ramadan, a month-long celebration during which Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset. Muslim dietary laws forbid eating pork at any time.
Three weeks later, an Islamophobic letter titled “What is the most serious: a pig’s head or a genocide” was distributed in the vicinity.
But Yangui said the mosque had not received any threats recently.
“We have a very good relationship with the neighbours, with the community,” he said. “There’s mutual respect – and now today we have this dramatic event.”
The mosque has several video cameras and Yangui said their footage might be able to help with the police investigation.
So far, Quebec City police have not specified the number of victims.
Quebec City Constable Étienne Doyon told reporters that police received a call around 7:55 p.m. on Sunday, stating that shots had been fired at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec on Sainte-Foy St.
He said two suspects had been arrested, but Doyon refused to provide further details.
Quebec City police confirmed deaths and injuries. A live video feed on the mosque’s Facebook page showed images of multiple police vehicles and yellow police tape. The investigation is ongoing.
Friends and bystanders around the security perimeter stood huddled in the cold, incredulous, unable to believe that such violence could occur in Quebec City, a city with a notoriously low crime rate.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Francis Vachon Police survey the scene of a shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec in Quebec city on Jan. 29, 2017.
Ben Abdallah, who often prays at the Ste-Foy mosque, described the event as “catastrophic. We never thought…. but given the hateful speeches all around the planet, it can happen,” he said.
Hamid Nadji had friends who were inside the mosque at the time of the shooting. He spoke to them afterward, and described the scene as “a carnage.”
“From what we head over the phone, one person had a weapon discharge in his face because he had wanted to jump on the man to stop him. And the three others died because they wanted to catch the man.”
He said an assailant went into the mosque a first time then left to recharge his weapon and came back a second, then a third time.
“Many of the people who lived this fled their home countries to avoid such situations, because they lived through trauma and didn’t want the same for their children.”
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Francis VachonPolice survey the scene of a shooting at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday January 29, 2017.
Montreal police are stepping up patrols around any sites on the island that could be potential targets, a spokesperson told the Montreal Gazette late Sunday. A vigil has already been planned in Montreal on Monday.
Political leaders condemned the shooting.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted Sunday he is deeply saddened by the loss of life, his office says no motive has been confirmed.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard reacted on Twitter by calling it “barbaric violence.”
“All our solidarity is with those who are close to the victims, the injured and their families,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the tragedy.
“Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City,” he tweeted.
“My thoughts are with victims & their families.”
Governor General David Johnston tweeted that he was “shocked by the unspeakable attack against innocent people.”