Six people ranging in age from 35 to about 70 years old were killed and eight more injured, including several children, during a shooting at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday night, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) said.
Police and public officials are treating the incident at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec as an act of terrorism.
Two men have been arrested, but SQ spokesperson Christine Coulombe told reporters Sunday it’s too early to determine any motive.
Thirty-nine people survived the attack, she added.
“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” mosque president Mohamed Yangui told Reuters.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard repeatedly called for solidarity in a news conference on Sunday.
In a message to Quebec’s Muslim community he said, “We are with you, this is your home, we are all Quebecers.”
Couillard added that he doesn’t expect further terrorist attacks, but that people need to be prepared.
He also said numerous events would be held in Quebec City to “indicate our solidarity.”
WATCH: ‘No one is completely safe:’ Quebec Premier on mosque shooting
Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume, who was sitting with Couillard, said, “We wouldn’t think it could happen in such a peaceful city, but it did.”
“I will just say to our fellow citizens, Muslim citizens, that we’re going to support them, we’re behind them, and I have to say, we love them.”
Police said the situation is now under control and RCMP and the SQ are helping with the investigation.
READ MORE: Anti-Muslim incidents in Quebec: a timeline
Quebec newspaper La Presse also said another suspect led police on a chase to the Ile d’Orléans but police wouldn’t comment, saying the investigation was ongoing.
A video posted on the official Facebook page of the mosque shows multiple police cars and an ambulance on scene.
The Centre, which is located in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood of Quebec City, was also the target of vandalism last summer when a pig’s head was delivered to it during Ramadan.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack cowardly and said his thoughts were with the victims and their families.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country,” the prime minister said in a statement.
“Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.
“Tonight, we grieve with the people of Sainte-Foy and all Canadians.”
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he was deeply saddened by the loss, and that the government is closely monitoring the situation.
Labeaume said the city was in shock following the attack.
“Violence and intolerance against anyone, groups or individuals, is simply unjustifiable and unacceptable,” he wrote in a statement.
“My first thoughts go out to the families of the victims and to all of the worshippers of the mosque in Sainte-Foy. The entire city is with you and we will be at your side as you go through this terrible ordeal, which is beyond belief.
“Let us remain united, as solidarity is the best response we can offer in the face of this human tragedy. Let us hope for courage. We will need it in the days to come.”
World leaders also condemned Sunday night’s “odious attack” on a Quebec City mosque.
In a statement early Monday morning, French President François Hollande said “France stands by the victims and their families.”
“The terrorists wanted to attack the spirit of peace and tolerance of the citizens of Quebec,” Hollande said. “France stands at the sides of the victims and their families.”
France has suffered from a string of terror attacks on the country, including the 2015 attack on a concert hall, soccer stadium and a café in Paris that left 130 people dead; and more recently, the deadly rampage on a large crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice.
A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack “despicable” and said the German leader was shocked as to what unfolded in the province.
“If the killers intended to set people of different faiths against each other, or to divide them, they must not and will not succeed in that,” Steffen Seibert said. “We stand in mourning beside the Muslim community in Quebec.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) also condemned the attack and said Islamophobia is on the rise in Canada.
“The fact that the attack was on a mosque strongly suggests that this was a hate crime and an act of terrorism. This is the nightmare scenario that Canadian Muslims have been dreading,” Ihsaan Gardee, NCCM’s Executive Director, said in a statement.
“There is already a growing and documented climate of Islamophobia in Canada. There are legitimate fears that Trump’s so-called Muslim ban and accompanying rhetoric will lead to more hate, and further acts of violence like this.”
But he also thanked fellow Canadians for their support.
“We are heartened by the overwhelming support of fellow Canadians in this time of deep crisis. We must unite together against divisive forces that seek to harm our communities,” says Gardee.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama also spoke out against the attack.
“We are deeply saddened by the attack that took place in a mosque in Quebec City and we pray for the rapid recovery of the wounded,” national president Lal Khan Malik said in a statement. “We are taking steps to ensure that all members of the community feel secure and safe.”
Here are some reactions from politicians in Canada and around the world:
The flag at Quebec’s National Assembly will fly at half-mast at Couillard’s request.
Over 5,000 people plan to attend a vigil for the victims at Montreal’s Parc subway station on Monday.
Another vigil is set to take place in Vancouver on the same day.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he was in contact with police chief Philippe Pichet and that surveillance has been beefed up around the city.
Pichet has confirmed that security was tightened in “specific locations” in Montreal. He also said he will meet with Muslim leaders in the morning.
Police in New York were also on alert in certain locations.
- With files from Reuters and The Canadian Press