Toronto, April 24 (IANS) Ten persons have been killed and 15 injured after a man ploughed a rental van through pedestrians on a city sidewalk here in Canada.
The incident occurred around 1.30 p.m. on Monday when the van driver mounted the sidewalk of city’s famous Yonge Street and ploughed over people enjoying the first sunny day of spring.
He sped over a two-kilometre stretch till his van hit a bus shelter. The entire stretch presented a ghastly scene as bodies lay scattered on it.
The van driver has been identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian from the city outskirts Richmond Hill.
During the chase, when a lone police officer pointing a gun at the driver asked him to surrender, the suspect told him that he had a gun.
As the police officer shouted: “Get down, get down or you will be shot,” the suspect said: “Kill me.” However, he soon surrendered.
Police cordoned off several city blocks and Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) sent an alert, saying that there is no subway service between Sheppard and Finch Stations.
This is the worst incident of mass killing in the city’s history. In a press conference later, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale ruled out any terror links.
The Minister said the incident does “not appear to be connected to any national security concerns”.
Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders though said he was not ruling out anything at the stage. He said the killer was not known to the city police.
“There’s nothing on our files. There’s nothing that we have on him right now. It (the accident) looks intentional and as a result 10 people are now not with us,” said Saunders.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto. Thank you to the first responders working at the scene – we’re monitoring the situation closely.”
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the opposition, New Democratic Party, said: “Tragic news coming out of Toronto – my thoughts are with all those affected by the horrific events…”
The incident took place about 29 km from the city centre, where Foreign Ministers from the G7 countries were meeting to discuss world issues.
After Europe and the US, it is the first such incident in Canada.
Canada survived a major terror attack in 2006 when 18 people linked to Al Qaeda were arrested for plotting to kill the Prime Minister, blow up parliament and take MPs hostage.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])