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Toronto attack: Driver arrested

By ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY
Reuters

April 23. 2018 10:00PM




TORONTO — A driver plowed his white Ryder rental van into a crowd in Toronto on Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 along a roughly mile-long stretch of sidewalk thronged with lunch-hour pedestrians, police said.

Police identified the driver as Alek Minassian, 25, and said he was in custody.

Police Chief Mark Saunders said Monday night that the motive in the attack is still unknown and that police did not have “anything in our files” on Minassian.

CBC, citing government officials, said he is not associated with any organized terror group.

Officials said he steered his vehicle toward people just before 1:30 p.m. in the northern section of Canada’s biggest city.

“This is going to be a long investigation,” Toronto Deputy Chief Peter Yuen told reporters after disclosing the death toll.

The CBC aired a video it said was shot by a bystander that showed police arresting a man at the scene as he shouted: “Kill me” and pointed an unidentified object at an officer. The video later showed what appeared to be the same man lying on the floor, being handcuffed.

Ryder System Inc spokesman Claudia Panfil confirmed that one of the company’s rental vehicles had been involved and said the company was cooperating with authorities.

There has been a string of deadly vehicle attacks in the United States and Europe, including an Oct. 31 attack in New York that killed eight. The Islamic State militant group encourages its supporters to use vehicles for attacks.

The incident was one of the most violent in recent Canadian history.

A former Canadian university student pleaded guilty last month to killing six men praying in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.

In September, a Somali refugee was charged with attempted murder over allegations he ran down four pedestrians with a car and stabbed a police officer outside a sports stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.

“It’s unprecedented,” said John Flengas, acting superintendent of Toronto’s paramedic services. We’ve never seen anything like this in the city of Toronto.”

The incident occurred about 18 miles from the site where Toronto is hosting a meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers from Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, but had no noticeable effect on that event’s security. (Related story, Page B1.)

A man who gave his name as Ali told CNN he saw the van and that the driver appeared to have been targeting people.

“This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody,” the man said. “He kept going, he kept going. People were getting hit, one after another.”

He said a number of the victims were older people and that he saw at one point a stroller fly into the air.

At least one person was struck outside an Anglican church, north of where the van came to rest in front of a condominium tower.

“Our hearts go out to anyone affected,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.


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