Canada's parliament attacked, soldier fatally shot nearby

Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:38pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A gunman attacked Canada's parliament on Wednesday, with gunfire erupting near where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking, and a soldier was fatally shot at a nearby war memorial, stunning the Canadian capital.

The gunman in the parliament building was shot dead, and Harper was safely removed in incidents that may have been linked to Islamic militants.

Witness accounts indicated the man who shot dead the soldier guarding the National War Memorial in central Ottawa, went on to attack the parliament building minutes later. Canadian police said however they could not "at this point" confirm it was the same person.

The shootings followed an attack on two soldiers in Quebec on Monday carried out by a convert to Islam. Two U.S. officials said U.S. agencies had been advised the dead gunman in Wednesday's shootings was also a Canadian convert to Islam.

Witnesses said a flurry of shots were fired after a gunman entered the parliament building, pursued by police.

The assault took place very near the room where Harper was meeting with members of his Conservative party, a government minister said.

"PM (Harper) was addressing caucus, then a huge boom, followed by rat-a-tat shots. We all scattered. It was clearly right outside our caucus door," Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement told Reuters.

The incident, shocking in Canada's normally tranquil capital, began shortly before 10 a.m. ET and was not over late in the afternoon. Parliament and buildings in downtown remained on emergency lockdown at 6 p.m.   Continued...

Armed RCMP officers head towards the Langevin Block on Parliament Hill following a shooting incident in Ottawa October 22, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Wattie