At least six people were killed and eight more injured during a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) said on Sunday night.
Police are treating the incident at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec as a terrorist attack, according to reports, and anti-terrorism forces are on scene.
Two men have been arrested and it’s too early to determine any motive, SQ spokesperson Christine Coulombe said Sunday.
Thirty-nine other people survived the attack, she added.
Local reports say the 911 call came in around 7:55 p.m. ET.
“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui, told Reuters.
Police said the situation is now under control and RCMP and the Sûreté du Québec are helping with the investigation.
Reports say dozens of people were inside when the shooting took place. Police say the building has since been evacuated.
Quebec newspaper La Presse also says 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.
Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & 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.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the province “categorically rejects this barbaric violence,” and that his provincial government has “mobilized” to ensure public safety, though no details were provided.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he was deeply saddened by the loss, and that the government is closely monitoring the situation.
Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume said the city is in shock tonight 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!”
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 flag at Quebec’s National Assembly of Quebec’s flag will fly at half-mast at Couillard’s request.
Over 5,000 people who 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 his Chief of Police and has beefed up surveillance around the city.
Montreal police chief Philippe Pichet has confirmed that security is being tightened in “specific locations” in Montreal. He also said he will meet with Muslim leaders in the morning to continue the discussion.
Police in New York are also on alert in certain locations, and the state’s governor said New York “stands shoulder to shoulder w QC Islamic Cultural Center & all Canadians.”
Reuters and Global News