Suspected mosque gunman hands himself in

UPDATE: A WHITE university student is the sole suspect in a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque in which six worshippers were killed.

Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old French-Canadian man, was arrested alongside Mohamed el Khadir on Sunday night after the shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre.

Bissonnette was nabbed about 24km from the scene after reportedly calling police to say he was armed but ready to surrender.

Mohamed el Khadir, believed to be of Moroccan descent, is now considered a witness and not a suspect.

US President Donald Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday to express his condolences and offer assistance.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, has been arrested over the shooting.
Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, has been arrested over the shooting. Facebook

More than 50 people were at the mosque when the shooting erupted in the men's section.

The six victims were reportedly aged between 35 and 65. A hospital spokeswoman said five were in critical condition and 12 others suffered minor injuries.

Sûreté du Quebec spokeswoman Christine Coulombe told TVA: "There is nothing to suggest that there are other suspects."

UPDATE: SIX people were killed and eight wounded in what politicians are calling a terrorist attack, where two gunmen opened fire in a mosque in Canada during evening prayers.

According to witnesses cited by Radio-Canada, two men entered the Québec City Islamic Cultural Centre and opened fire on about 40 worshippers inside.

One was armed with an "AK-47", a prohibited weapon, La Presse reported.

A witness, who asked to remain anonymous, told CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada that two masked individuals entered the mosque.

"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," said the witness.

"There were even kids. There was even a three-year-old who was with his father."

Two people have been arrested over the shooting, a Québec police spokesman said. One was apprehended after a chase that ended near l'île d'Orléans, a bridge which connects the island to the mainland.

Québec Police said on its Twitter account that "there are deaths and wounded suspects were arrested". Police later said that the situation was "under control" as investigations continued.

Québec Premier Philippe Couillard said in French on his Twitter account that the mosque attack was an "act of terrorism".

"Québec categorically rejects this barbaric violence. Our solidarity is with victims, the injured and their families," Couillard said, adding that police were making their priority to fight "terrorism" to ensure the safety of its people.

Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre President Mohamed Yangui reported the number of dead late Sunday in a telephone call from the provincial capital.

Yangui said the shooting happened in the men's section of the mosque. He said five males had died and he worried that some were children. He said he wasn't at the centre when the attack occurred.

Police later updated the death toll to six.

"We are sad for the families," he said.

Both Candian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard characterised the attack as a terrorist act.

"We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge," he said in a statement.

"While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.

"Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance."

Earlier, police put up a security perimeter around the mosque and declined to comment to reporters about the incident.

"Why is this happening here? This is barbaric," said the mosque's president, Yangui said.

"I managed to talk to people inside. They told me there were at least five deaths and that the person managed to reload his weapon at least three times."

In June 2016, a pig's head was left on the doorstep of the cultural centre. 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 Québec City, the capital city of Québec, which has a predominately French-speaking population.

The mosque has about 5000 members and is one of six in the Québec City region.

Incidents of Islamophobia increased in Québec in recent years amid a political debate over banning the niqab, or Muslim face covering. In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of Québec 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, 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.

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

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

 

EARLIER: Two people have been arrested after a shooting at a Mosque in Quebec, Reuters reports.

An eyewitness reportedly saw heavily armed tactical response police entering the building however Police refused to comment on whether there were still more gunmen inside. 


EARLIER: FIVE people are dead after gunmen opened fire at a mosque during evening prayers in Canada's Quebec City.

Reuters is reporting that three shooters fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre.

There is no information yet on the motivations or identities of the attackers.

The president of the mosque confirmed the attack occurred on Sunday local time, or Monday lunchtime Australia time.

"Why is this happening here? This is barbaric," said mosque president Mohamed Yangui.

Mr Yangui was not inside the mosque at the time but took frantic calls from people at prayers, he said.
 

Quebec has experienced anti-Islam threats and attacks amid a political debate over banning the niqab, a Muslim face covering.

One mosque was splattered with suspected pigs blood in 2013. In 2015, a mosque in the neighbouring province of Ontario was set alight a day after Paris suffered a terrorist attack.

CBC Canada reports that two suspects have been arrested.

Canadian public safety minister Ralph Goodale said he was "deeply saddened" by the deaths.

A video purportedly from outside the mosque in the aftermath of the attack has appeared on YouTube.

It is unverified and may contain disturbing scenes.
 


The province of Quebec in Canada has faced criticism in the past two years for an increase in anti-Islam sentiment.

In 2015 a Human Rights Commission survey found 49% of people in Quebec felt uneasy when seeing a Muslim veil.



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