Armed police watch as soldiers return to guard Ottawa memorial

Thu Apr 9, 2015 12:34pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Soldiers returned to their posts at Canada's National War Memorial on Thursday for the first time since a shocking fatal attack last October, but the ceremonial guards are now protected by armed police and separated from the public.

The defense ministry is paying police C$425,000 ($340,000) this year to provide security at the memorial, where a convert to Islam shot a soldier dead on Oct. 22.

Two soldiers, who carry unloaded rifles, normally stand on guard at the memorial in central Ottawa each year from April 9 to Nov. 10. On Thursday, two armed police officers also stood close by the gray stone memorial in central Ottawa, watching as a handful of tourists braved freezing temperatures to take photos.

"We remain undeterred in paying tribute to this nation's fallen and continue, resolutely, to show dignity and respect for this important national site," said a defense ministry spokeswoman.

Until the attack, members of the public had been able to talk to the two guards and pose for pictures with them. Now the pair stand in isolation behind stanchions.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who shot dead the ceremonial guard last October, stormed into the main Parliament building immediately after the killing and died in an exchange of fire with security guards and police.

In a video he recorded just before the rampage, Zehaf-Bibeau said he was retaliating against Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)