Lone gunman kills Canadian soldier in Ottawa attack

October 23, 2014 5:43 am
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Police and forensic officers inspect the scene where a soldier was killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada on October 22, 2014/AFP
Police and forensic officers inspect the scene where a soldier was killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada on October 22, 2014/AFP
OTTAWA, Canada, Oct 23 – A gunman whose name was on a terror watch list killed a soldier and attempted to storm Canada’s parliament Wednesday before the assembly’s sergeant-at-arms shot him dead.

The attack – the second this week targeting Canadian military personnel – came as Canadian jets were to join the US-led bombing campaign against Islamist militants in Iraq.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged not to waver, saying Canada would bolster its efforts to combat “terrorist” groups abroad.

“Canada will never be intimidated,” Harper told the nation in a televised address.

“In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts… to fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalise those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.”

The attacker, identified by Canadian media as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was considered a “high risk” suspect whose passport had been confiscated to prevent him fighting abroad.

Instead, he shot and killed a Canadian soldier who was mounting a ceremonial guard at a war memorial in downtown Ottawa before storming into the nearby parliament building.

The soldier was named in reports as Corporal Nathan Cirillo, part of a detachment on ceremonial duties at Parliament Hill, the heart of Canada’s national government and home to its legislature.

At least three people were admitted to hospital with minor injuries.

The attacker was killed, reportedly by a shot fired by the bearer of the House of Commons’ ceremonial mace, Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers, who was hailed as a hero by lawmakers.

Police said an investigation was continuing, but Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said a lockdown in certain downtown areas was over, and that it appeared the shooter had acted alone.

“It appears there was just one shooter. And that shooter is dead,” Watson told CNN.

The attack came two days after an alleged Islamist ran over two soldiers, killing one of them, in what officials branded a terrorist attack.

Authorities had raised the security threat level from low to medium after the car attack.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada’s military efforts overseas would not change.

“Our deployments in support of the security forces in Iraq will continue unimpeded,” he stressed.

Lawmakers, staff and reporters, evacuated from the historic building on Parliament Hill, spoke of intense gunfire inside.

Video footage posted online by the Globe and Mail newspaper showed police ducking for cover as they advanced along a stone hallway, loud gunfire echoing among parliament’s stone columns.

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