Tuesday 16 July 2019

'We will not be intimidated by terror attacks,' vows Canadian Prime Minister after terror attack in which one soldier was killed and over 50 shots fired in parliament

David Ljunggren and Leah Schnurr

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to redouble the country's fight against "terrorist organizations" abroad after a reported convert to Islam rampaged through parliament, shocking the usually tranquil capital city.

Shortly after a gunman shot dead a soldier at the National War Memorial in central Ottawa on Wednesday morning, a man armed with a shotgun burst into the Centre Block of Parliament, pursued by police. He died after dozens of shots rang out a few yards away from where Harper was talking to his legislators.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicle passes the Fairmont Chateau Laurier as it leaves a secure area downtown following shootings in Ottawa October 22, 2014
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicle passes the Fairmont Chateau Laurier as it leaves a secure area downtown following shootings in Ottawa October 22, 2014
Police officers gather police tape following shootings in downtown Ottawa October 22, 2014
Investigative personnel stand outside the street entrance to Parliament Hill following shootings in downtown Ottawa October 22, 2014
The Conservative Party caucus room is shown with its doors barracaded with furniture shortly after the shooting began (Reuters)
Police officers take cover near Parliament Hill (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
First aiders rush to assist the solider shot outside the National War Memorial (Daneil Thibeault/CBC/Reuters)
A timeline of the attacks
Terror came to Canada yesterday as a gunman shot dead a soldier at point-blank range before rampaging through parliament in the capital of Ottawa. AP Photo
Stephen Harper
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police intervention team responds to a reported shooting at Parliament building in Ottawa yesterday. Photo: AP
The Conservative Party caucus room is shown shortly after shooting began on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa. Photo: Reuters
A police officer patrols the scene near the Canada War Memorial. Photo: Reuters
A still image captured from video footage by the Globe and Mail newspaper shows police officers responding to shooting attacks inside the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. Photo: Reuters/Globe
Kevin Vickers
Emergency personnel tend to a soldier shot at the National Memorial near Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Armed RCMP officers head in to Centre Block on Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa
Armed RCMP officers guard access to Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa
Armed RCMP officers approach Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa
Police officers take cover near Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa
Armed RCMP officers guard the front of Langevin Block on Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa
Police officers control traffic on Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa
Armed RCMP officers head towards the Langevin Block on Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa
Police officers control traffic on Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa
Police officers and ambulance workers gather alongside the Canadian War Memorial following a shooting incident in Ottawa
A Canadian soldier who was shot outside the war memorial on Parliament Hill in tended to in Ottawa
Police officers patrol alongside the Canadian War Memorial following a shooting incident in Ottawa
An ambulance is pictured alongside the Canadian War Memorial following a shooting incident in Ottawa
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police intervention team responds to a reported shooting at Parliament building in Ottawa
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police intervention team walks past a gate on Parliament hill in Ottawa
Soldier killed and PM forced to flee as gunmen attack Canadian capital

Ottawa police said it was too early to say whether one person was responsible for both attacks. The killing of the Canadian soldier was the second this week with a possible link to Islamist militants.

Harper said it was too early to know whether the gunman had accomplices but insisted Canada would never be intimidated.

"This will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats," he said in a televised address to the nation late on Wednesday.

A convert to Islam on Monday ran over two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal.

Both attacks took place after Canada announced this month it would send six jets to take part in air strikes against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

Harper said Canada would now "redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores".

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada's deployment to Iraq would go on unimpeded.

The two attacks in quick succession could push the Canadian government to pause and rethink before introducing a planned bill to change the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, said Wesley Wark, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who is an expert on national security and intelligence issues.

The bill to boost the powers of Canada's main spy agency, CSIS, was slated to be introduced in parliament this week.

"What the government is now confronting is a choice with going forward on whatever its original, probably small-scale changes might have been, or sitting back and thinking about whether there is something more that needs to be done," he said.

Canadian police were investigating a man named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as a suspect in Wednesday's attack, said a source familiar with the matter.

Court documents show he previously faced a robbery charge in Vancouver and multiple drug-related charges in Montreal.

U.S. officials said they had been advised the dead gunman in Wednesday's shootings was also a Canadian convert to Islam.

Officials said Parliament would reopen at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday.

Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement tweeted that he would convene a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday and added "#terroristsbedamned".

Clement and hundreds of legislators had spent about 10 hours locked up in the Parliament as police searched the building.

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