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Crime

Everything We Know About the Terrorist Attack on a Quebec City Mosque

Six men were killed and one suspect has been apprehended.

Six men were killed at a shooting at a Quebec City mosque Sunday night, in what authorities are describing as a domestic terrorist act.

Two men, both in their 20s, were originally arrested. However, just after noon Monday, Sûreté du Québec police tweeted that only one man is considered a suspect; the other is now being treated as a witness. While police are not naming the men or speculating on possible motives, other media outlets have identified them as Laval University students Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed Belkhadir. La Presse is reporting that Bissonnette is the suspect and is expected to appear in court this afternoon.

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The names of the six dead have not been released. Two victims are currently in critical condition at Centre Hospitalier Universite Laval and will require additional surgeries, but they are expected to survive. Three additional victims are expected to be released from hospital shortly. Twelve were treated and released from hospital. All of the victims are men between the ages of 39-60, the RCMP said at a press conference Monday morning. "We're still in the early stages of the investigation," said RCMP superintendent Martin Plante. "We're not going to discuss the specifics at this time." Charges have not yet been laid.

A member of a Quebec SWAT team escorts a woman not far from the shooting scene. Photo by Andre Pichette 

Approximately 200 police officers were called to the scene Sunday night at around 8 PM, where two masked gunmen had entered the ground level of the Sainte-Foy Islamic Cultural Center. Around 40 people were at the mosque for evening prayers at the time.

Police said one of the suspects was apprehended near the crime scene while another called 911 and waited about 12 miles from the shooting site for them to pick him up by the side of the road. No other suspects are believed to be at large.

All mosques in Laval are currently under high security.

Family members of victims have been advised to go to Jeffery Hale building at Saint Brigid's hospital, where trauma and social work services are available.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement Monday morning saying he was shocked and angry to learn of the tragedy.

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"We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge," he said. "Muslim Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities, and country. 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."

Quebec City mayor Régis Labeaume wrote on Facebook that "violence and intolerance towards anyone, groups or individuals, is simply unjustifiable and unacceptable.

"The whole town is with you and we will be at your side in order to get through this terrible ordeal which exceeds the reason."

The Islamic Cultural Center, also called the Grand Mosque of Quebec, was targeted last June when a bloody pig's head was left there wrapped in plastic with the note "bonne [sic] appétit." It has also previously been vandalized with notes that said "Fuck Arabs," "white power," and swastikas.

The shooting comes on the heels of US president Donald Trump's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the States.

Hundreds of protesters against the Muslim ban gathered outside the US consulate in Toronto Monday morning.

Trump also reportedly called Trudeau to express his condolences and offer support.

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, known for praising Trump and stoking Islamophobia through her proposed policies of screening immigrants for Canadian values and creating a barbaric tips hotline, tweeted that the shooting was "heartbreaking."

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In response, many called for her to drop out of the race.

"You are contributing to Islamophobia in this country," wrote one user. "Drop out of the race, resign your seat, and reflect on your life choices."

According to the National Council of Canadian Muslims, there were 63 anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in Canada in 2016, up from 59 in 2015, and 23 in 2014.

There will be a vigil in Quebec City tonight to honor the victims of the shooting.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.