QUEBEC CITY (AP) — Five people have been killed in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, the president of the center said Sunday.
Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre President Mohamed Yangui reported the number of dead late Sunday in a telephone call from the provincial capital.
Yangui said the shooting happened in the men’s section of the mosque. He said five males had died and he worried that some were children. He said he wasn’t at the center when the attack occurred but he got some details from people on the scene.
He said an estimated 60-100 people would have been there at the time of the shooting. “We are sad for the families,” he said.
Authorities did not confirm the number of fatalities.
Quebec City police spokesman Constable Pierre Poirier said two suspects were arrested. Police said the mosque had been evacuated and things were under control.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly took to social media to express his condolences.
“Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families,” Trudeau tweeted.
He later said on Twitter that he spoke to Quebec’s premier and was being briefed by officials. The prime minister said the government had offered “any & all assistance needed.”
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard termed the act “barbaric violence” and expressed solidarity with the victims’ families.
The mayor of Gatineau, Quebec near Canada’s capital of Ottawa, said there would be increased police presence at mosques around his city following the attack.
The New York Police Department said it was stepping up patrols at mosques and other hours of worships in its city.
The NYPD issued a statement Sunday night saying Critical Response Command personnel had been “assigned to extended tour coverage” at certain mosques.
“NYPD is providing additional protection for mosques in the city. All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something,” New York City Mayor Bill Blasio said on Twitter.
“Our prayers tonight are with the people of Quebec City as they deal with a terrible attack on a mosque. We must stand together,” Blasio said in another tweet.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Twitter Sunday that he was deeply saddened by the loss of life. His office said no motive had been confirmed.
In the summer of 2016 a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre.
The incident occurred in the middle of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Practicing Muslims do not eat pork.
Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto and Tracey Lindeman in Montreal contributed to this report.