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Canada’s Ottawa on high security alert after series of deadly shootings

October 23, 2014, 3:54 UTC+3 OTTAWA
Armed suspect killed a guard of honor at the World War One War Memorial and wounded at least two law enforcers
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OTTAWA, October 23. /TASS/. The Canadian capital of Ottawa is on high security alert after a series of deadly shootings hit the city on Wednesday morning first taking place at the War Memorial, where a soldier was shot dead, and then moving on to the country’s parliament.

At approximately 9:50 a.m. a suspect clad in black and reportedly carrying a double-barrel shotgun fired at a guard of honor at the World War One War Memorial in downtown Ottawa and then, according to eyewitnesses, ran in the direction of the country’s parliament.

Shortly after the attack at the War Memorial, gunfire erupted inside the Parliament, where an armed suspect attempted to battle his way through the building, wounding at least two law enforcers on his way. The suspect was killed by police in return fire.

The Canadian Press reported that it was Kevin Vickers, the sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons and 29-year RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) veteran, who shot the gunman in the parliament.

According to CNN, the killed gunman, who went on a shooting spree in Ottawa, was identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian-born citizen.

“Two sources tell CNN that Bibeau was a convert to Islam and had a history of drug use before he converted,” CNN reported.

However, there was no official confirmation that the gunman killed in the parliament and the one involved in the shooting at the War Memorial earlier in the day were the same person, while, according to CNN, police Ottawa was looking for more suspects involved in the shooting rampage.

"We have to apprehend and arrest the people that are involved in this morning's incident," CNN quoted Ottawa Police Constable Chuck Benoit as saying, "and at this time we don't have these people."

The guard of honor, shot dead at the War Memorial, was identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist based out of Hamilton, Ontario.

CNN cited one of the witnesses at the shooting scene near the War Memorial as saying that Cirillo was shot in the back.

"I was locking my bike up, and I heard four shots," CNN quoted Peter Henderson, a journalist who was at the memorial at the time of the shooting, as saying. "I saw one of the soldiers laying on the ground."

The Canadian Press cited one of the witnesses, Scott Walsh, as saying that during the incident he saw “a man with long, black hair, his face covered with a white scarf and wearing a black jacket.”

“He had a double-barrelled shotgun, he was about five feet from me, and he ran right beside us, ran past the woman with the stroller and child,” Walsh was quoted as saying.

The Parliament was locked down immediately after the shooting and Prime Minister Stephen Harper safely left the building as police was cordoning off the area.

The series of deadly Ottawa shootings swiftly provoked international concern on behalf of world leaders, who expressed their condolences.

US President Barack Obama spoke with Harper after the shootings and later told journalists that time needed to establish motivations behind the tragic events and whether it was an individual act or a part of a broader conspiracy.

"We don't yet have all the information about what motivated the shooting. We don't yet have all the information about whether this was part of a broader network, or plan, or whether this was an individual, or series of individuals, who decided to take these actions,” Obama told journalists.

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