Five people were killed after gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers, the mosque’s president told reporters on Sunday.
Earlier, a witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center. Police put up a security perimeter around the mosque and declined to comment to reporters about the incident.
“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” said the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui.
JUST IN: Video shows police in Quebec City responding to reports of deadly shooting at Mosque. http://t.co/OfIp2Nx1u9 pic.twitter.com/KPeDuZD4V4
— ABC News (@ABC) January 30, 2017
In June 2016, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the cultural center.
Yangui, who was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred, said he got frantic calls from people at evening prayers. He did not know how many were injured, saying they had been taken to different hospitals across Quebec City.
Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 30, 2017
Incidents of Islamophobia increased in Quebec in recent years amid a political debate over banning the niqab, or Muslim face covering. In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of Quebec was splattered with what was believed to be pig blood.
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In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris.