Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday labeled the killing of four members of a Muslim family, who were run down by a man driving a pick-up truck, as a “terrorist attack”.
“This killing was no accident.
This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities,” Trudeau said during a speech at the House of Commons.
The victims, who were struck as they walked together along a sidewalk, represent three generations of the same family, according to a statement issued by their relatives.
The husband and wife, plus their teenage daughter and a woman identified as the man’s mother were killed when a black pick-up truck mounted the curb and struck them at an intersection in the city of London in Canada’s central Ontario province. The driver of the truck was arrested.
The couple’s nine-year-old son was hospitalized following the attack but is recovering, the statement said.
“We all hope the little boy can recover from his injuries quickly, even though we know he will live a long time with the sadness, incomprehension and anger caused by this cowardly Islamophobic attack,” Trudeau said, briefly switching to French.
The victims have been identified as Madiha Salman, age 44, who had done post-graduate work in the field of civil and environmental engineering at Western University in London, as well as her husband, Salman Afzaal age 46.
Their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna Salman, was also killed as well as a woman reported to be Afzaal’s mother, age 74. The family is of Pakistani origin.
London police said Monday the suspect had deliberately attacked a Muslim family with his pick-up in a premeditated and planned act, motivated by hatred.
The 20-year-old suspect, arrested shortly after the attack, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, while several leaders of the Muslim community have called on the courts to deem the episode a terrorist attack.
“They were all targeted because of their Muslim faith,” Trudeau said, promising to step up the country’s fight against far-right racist groups. “This is happening here, in Canada. And it has to stop.”—AFP