Quebec mosque shooters 'Moroccan, Canadian'

Quebec mosque shooters 'Moroccan, Canadian'

Quebec police stand guard after the shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, a Shia mosque in Quebec City. Six people were killed and another 19 were wounded in the Sunday evening shooting. (EPA photo)
Quebec police stand guard after the shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, a Shia mosque in Quebec City. Six people were killed and another 19 were wounded in the Sunday evening shooting. (EPA photo)

QUEBEC CITY, CANADA - A suspected shooter and a man described as a witness were detained after a deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque on Sunday evening killed six people and wounded 19, police said on Monday.

A source said one of the detainees was French-Canadian and the other was of Moroccan heritage.

Quebec provincial police now say only one of the two men arrested Sunday night following the deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque is a suspect in the attack.

A witness told CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada that two masked individuals entered the mosque.

"It seemed to me that they had a Quebecois (French-Canadian) 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.

One man being held was identified as Alexandre Bissonnette, a French-Canadian, the other as Mohamed Khadir, who is of Moroccan heritage although his nationality was not immediately known. Both men are believed to be Muslim.

Police declined to give details of their identities or possible motives for the attack during evening prayers at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec.

The mosque is Shia, raising the likelihood that the shooters were Sunni, possibly sympathetic to the Islamic State, which has been responsible for numerous atrocities against Shia mosques and communities.

French-speaking Quebec's dominant religion is Christian, with a large majority of Roman Catholics.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the shooting "a terrorist attack on Muslims" but gave no details of a possible Muslim-against-Muslim cause.

"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 the two men, were not previously known to police.

One suspect was arrested at the mosque, where police were called at about 8 p.m. local time, and the other turned himself about an hour later, Quebec City Police Inspector Denis Turcotte said.

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

Five people were critically injured in the mosque attack and remained in intensive care, three of them in life-threatening condition, a spokeswoman for the Quebec City University Hospital said on Monday.

Another 12 people were treated for minor injuries, she said.

A father of four, the owner of a halal butcher near the mosque, was among those killed, said Pamela Sakinah El-hayet, a friend of one of the people at the mosque.

The mosque concierge was killed, as was Ahmed Youness, a 21-year-old student, El-hayet said.

There was an outpouring of support for the mosque on social media, and vigils were planned for Montreal and Quebec City, the provincial capital, as well as Edmonton later on Monday.

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