Home-grown attacks: Canada faces jihadist threat after Ottawa shooting

Lawmakers returned to the bullet-chipped halls of Canada's parliament today after two jihadist attacks in three days forced their nation to confront a deadly new home-grown threat

hidden October 24, 2014 08:18:56 IST
Home-grown attacks: Canada faces jihadist threat after Ottawa shooting

Ottawa: Lawmakers returned to the bullet-chipped halls of Canada's parliament today after two jihadist attacks in three days forced their nation to confront a deadly new home-grown threat.

In the House of Commons, members applauded Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, who yesterday put aside his ceremonial duties to draw a gun and fire the shot that halted one attacker.

Vickers' composed bravery has become an inspiration to Canadians struggling to comprehend how two of their countrymen could turn against their homeland with such reckless brutality.

"The objective of these attacks was to instill fear and panic in our country and to interrupt the business of government," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the chamber as business resumed.

Homegrown attacks Canada faces jihadist threat after Ottawa shooting

People take in the memorial at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near Parliament Hill, where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was killed by a gunman, in Ottawa on Thursday. AP

"Well, members, as I said yesterday, Canadians will not be intimidated. We will be vigilant but we will not run scared.

"We will be prudent but we will not panic and as for the business of government, well, here we are, in our seats, in our chamber in the very heart of our democracy and our work." Harper then crossed the floor to shake Vickers' hand, and to hug opposition leaders.

Earlier, the prime minister had lain a bouquet of flowers at the Ottawa war memorial where an unarmed Canadian soldier mounting a ceremonial guard was shot dead yesterday. A large crowd had gathered at the site, still cordoned off with yellow police ribbon, to pay their respects and show their defiance in the face of the unexpected threat from within Canadian society.

Yesterday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old petty criminal from Montreal, had shot dead the soldier at the memorial, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, before storming the corridors of parliament.

There, officers opened fire, including Vickers, a veteran of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police appointed to lead the parliamentary security team and wield the ceremonial mace.

The attack followed a similar one on Monday, when 25-year-old Martin Couture-Rouleau ran over two soldiers in a Quebec parking lot, killing one of them, before being shot dead by police.

Both assailants were already on a Canadian government watch list of so-called "high-risk travellers" banned from leaving the country for fear they might join Islamist extremists waging war abroad.

Canada has never before been hit by Islamist violence, but it has been threatened in militant broadcasts over its role in the US-led air armada striking the Islamic State group in Iraq.

AFP

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