A gunman attacked Canada's parliament on Wednesday, with gunfire erupting near where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking, and a soldier was fatally shot at a nearby war memorial, stunning the Canadian capital.
The gunman in the parliament building was shot dead, and Harper was safely removed in incidents that may have been linked to Islamic militants.
Witness accounts indicated the man who shot dead the soldier guarding the National War Memorial in central Ottawa, went on to attack the parliament building minutes later. Canadian police said however they could not "at this point" confirm it was the same person.
The shootings followed an attack on two soldiers in Quebec on Monday carried out by a convert to Islam. Two U.S. officials said U.S. agencies had been advised the dead gunman in Wednesday's shootings was also a Canadian convert to Islam.
Witnesses said a flurry of shots were fired after a gunman entered the parliament building, pursued by police.
The assault took place very near the room where Harper was meeting with members of his Conservative party, a government minister said.
"PM (Harper) was addressing caucus, then a huge boom, followed by rat-a-tat shots. We all scattered. It was clearly right outside our caucus door," Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement told Reuters.
The incident, shocking in Canada's normally tranquil capital, began shortly before 10 a.m. ET and was not over late in the afternoon. Parliament and buildings in downtown remained on emergency lockdown at 6 p.m.
Security in Ottawa came under criticism after the gunman was able to run through the unlocked front door of the main parliament building. Police said an operation was under way to make parliament safe.
"It caught us by surprise... If we had known that this was coming, we would have been able to disrupt it," Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, (RCMP) told a news conference.
It was unclear whether there was any connection between Wednesday's shootings and an attack on Monday when a convert to Islam ran down two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal, before being shot dead by police in the first fatal attack on Canadian soil tied to Islamic militants.
Moments ago CBS News reported, citing Law enforcement and U.S. Government sources, that the shooter in today's tragic Ottawa incident was Michael Abdul Zehaf Bibeau, born in Canada in 1982. One source says he sometime dropped the name Michael and went by Abdul Zehaf Bibeau. At other times he apparently dropped the Abdul. In a report from the Muslim Issue, Zehaf-Bibeau is said to be reportedly of Algerian descent.
Zehaf-Bibeau is the alleged shooter who killed soldier at the national War Memorial before entering the Centre Block and firing off more shots. Epoch Times reporter Matthew Little says that the shooter got as far as the library before Sergeant-At-Arms shot him dead.
As CBS adds, no motives for the shootings have been revealed yet, but the incidents happened one day after two other soldiers -- one of whom later died -- were run over by a car driven by a recent Muslim convert and jihadist sympathizer whom police also shot and killed. The series of incidents in Ottawa began shortly before 10 a.m., when the soldier was shot.
As Breaking911 adds, the shooting suspect was allegedly born in Quebec as Michael Joseph Hall. He’s a recent convert to Islam.
US and Canadian air defenses were put on heightened alert Wednesday following a shooting in Canada’s parliament, and the American embassy in Ottawa was placed on lockdown, officials said.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) “is taking appropriate and prudent steps to ensure we are adequately postured to respond quickly to any incidents involving aviation in Canada,” said a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The move came as a precaution after a gunman opened fire in and around the Canadian parliament. The gunman was killed after shooting dead a Canadian soldier who was guarding a nearby war memorial.
Just months after a ceasefire ended a months-long war between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza, violence may again be flaring up in the Middle East.
On Wednesday, eight people including a three-month-old baby were wounded in Jerusalem when a car ran into a crowd of passengers assembling near a light rail station. “A baby in critical condition, a woman in seriously condition, two people moderately and four more lightly,” Haaretz reported. The suspected attacker was also seriously wounded when first responders shot him.
The infant latter passed away as a result of the wounds suffered in this attack.
The attack was suspected to be what in Hebrew is termed a “run-over terror attack.” This kind of attack has been used several times in the past in Jerusalem, most recently in August, when a Palestinian man driving a digger in Jerusalem used his vehicle to flip over a bus, killing Avraham Walles, a 29-year-old father of five. Five others were lightly wounded in the attack: the bus driver, three passengers and a police officer. The incident, which took place in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood, has been declared a terrorist attack.
The editor of The Jerusalem Post confirmed that Hamas militants had taken credit for the attack.
The view from Israel is decidedly different from the West, apparently. The Associated Press did its best to downplay the seriousness of the attack on Israeli civilians.
Originally headlined “Israeli police shoot man,” apparently for no discernable reason, AP later revised its headline to read “Car slams into east Jerusalem train station.” The opening paragraph noted that the incident “appeared to be an nationalistically motivated attack.” AKA radical fundamentalist terrorism.
AP’s headline was finally amended one last time to reflect the horror Hamas had unleashed on Israeli civilians: “Palestinian kills baby at Jerusalem station.” Small favors.
After reporting on the details of the attack, the AP took a moment to defend its assertion that this attack was merely an outburst resulting from overzealous nationalism.