'Terrorist attack on Muslims': Six killed in Quebec mosque shooting

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Two people have been arrested after six people were killed and eight wounded when multiple gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque.

The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has deemed an attack on a Quebec City mosque late Sunday a "terrorist attack on Muslims".

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge," the PM 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."

The premier of the Canadian province of Quebec also labelled the attack a "terrorist act".

"As a result of this terrorist act, I asked the #assnat (National Assembly of Quebec) to put our Montreal flag at half-mast," Philippe Couillard tweeted.

Quebec police have confirmed six people were killed and eight others wounded after gunmen opened fire at a mosque in Quebec City late Sunday, media reported.

Two suspects in the shooting were arrested, with Quebec police saying there is nothing to suggest there are other suspects. 

There were aproximately 40 people inside the mosque when the shots were fired, one witness said. All occupants were evacuated, police said.

The motive of the attack was not immediately clear. Police were able to bring the situation under control after setting up a perimetre around the scene of the attack.

A few dozen people were inside the Islamic Cultural Center when the shooting began just after 8:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday), CBC reported, citing its French-language service Radio-Canada.

According to CBC, Quebec City Police Constable Etienne Doyon said at the time of the attack mostly men were gathered at the mosque for evening prayers.

According to witnesses cited by Radio-Canada, two men entered the center and opened fire on the people inside.

Canada's Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a tweet he is "profoundly saddened by the loss of life and wounded".

Quebec's prime minister, Philippe Couillard, said in a series of Twitter posts that the government was "mobilized to ensure the security of the people of Quebec."

"Quebec categorically rejects this barbaric violence," he wrote. "Solidarity with Quebec people of Muslim faith."

The Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, which is also known as the grand mosque of Quebec, had already been the target of hate: a pig's head was left on the doorstep last June during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The attack comes as Canada has vowed to open its arms wide to Muslims and refugees after US President Donald Trump's controversial immigration ban Friday sparked travel chaos and outrage around the world.

Canada will offer temporary residence permits to people stranded in the country as a result of Trump's order, the immigration ministry said Sunday.

"Let me assure those who may be stranded in Canada that I will use my authority as minister to provide them with temporary residency if needed as we have done in the past," Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said at a news conference.

Trump has suspended the arrival of all refugees to the US for at least 120 days and barred entry for 90 days to people from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Hussen, who is of Somali origin, did not condemn the US measure but stressed that Canada would continue to pursue an immigration policy based on "compassion" while at the same time protecting the security of its citizens.

"We welcome those fleeing persecution, terror and war," he said, echoing a welcoming Twitter post by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday.

According to the latest Canadian census, from 2011, one out of five people in the country are foreign-born.

Canada has welcomed more than 39,670 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and early January 2017, according to government figures.

Source AFP, Reuters

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