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Multiple people were killed and others injured Sunday after gunmen opened fire on worshipers at a Quebec City mosque as evening prayers were ending in what Quebec’s premier described as an act of terrorism.
The mosque’s president told Reuters that five people were killed. Police said via Twitter that there were “deaths and injuries” but did not specify a number. A police spokesperson said that two suspects had been arrested.
“The situation is under control, the premises are secure and the occupants were evacuated,” police said in a tweet. “The investigation is ongoing.”
Witnesses said that two gunmen, some reports said three, opened fired at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center. Local media reported that between 60 and 100 people were inside.
“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui, told Reuters.
Speaking on RDI, Quebec City police spokesman Etienne Doyon said that the shootings took place as prayers were ending Sunday evening.
Witnesses reported that at least two hooded shooters entered the mosque and opened fire on congregants who had remained there after the end of prayers. Other said the shooters were wearing ski masks.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack “cowardly” and said Canadians grieved for the victims.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard condemned the attacks in a tweet and called for solidarity with Muslims in Quebec. “Quebec categorically rejects this barbaric violence,” he said. Later he Tweeted that it was an act of terrorism.
The Quebec Islamic Cultural Center is located near Laval University, which has a large community of international students, many from French-speaking Africa and the Maghreb.

The mosque, one of several in the area, was the target of a hate crime last June when a pig’s head was left at the front door with the message “Bonne app├ętit,” as The Washington Post reported at the time. The consumption of pork is banned by Islam. Concerned about that kind of incident, the mosque installed several closed-circuit cameras around the building.
The shooting is a particular shock for Quebec City, a quiet white-collar city with a low crime rate. In 2015, the city reported two murders. The metropolitan area has 800,000 people.


According to La Presse, the province’s leading newspaper, police were also treating the attack as a terrorist incident and had activated a joint task force involving municipal police, Quebec’s provincial police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
An ambulance is parked at the scene of a fatal shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, Canada. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Samer Majzoub, the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, a Muslim advocacy group in Quebec, said he knows people who attend the Quebec City mosque, but that he and other area Muslim leaders were still trying frantically to find out who had been shot.
“People that we know, we are not sure if they’re alive right now. They’re saying about five confirmed, a dozen injured. And the police are cordoning all the area,” he told The Post. “It is shocking. It never came to our mind that we’d have a terrorist act as such, especially in Canada.”
Majzoub said Canada has seen increasing anti-Muslim hostility over the past year, but still nowhere near the level witnessed in the United States and Europe. But he said the area where the mosque has appeared to be particularly prone to anti-Muslim sentiments. “This masjid has witnessed a lot of issues before — threats and vandalism, and some Islamophobic graffiti,” he said, using the Arabic word for mosque. “It’s not the first time.”
Majzoub said the mosque has a small congregation of about a hundred people and attracts a lot of students because it’s near a university. He said many of its attendees are of North African descent.
“We never thought it could happen,” he said. “It was a slaughter.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Abigail Hauslohner contributed to this report. Alan Freeman reported from Ottawa.


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