Fri | Dec 2, 2016

Shots ring out at parliament

Published:Thursday | October 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Paramedics and police wheel away a shooting victim at the National War Memorial near Parliament Hill in Ottawa yesterday. A soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial was shot by an unknown gunman and people reported hearing gunfire inside the halls of Parliament. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was rushed away from Parliament Hill to an undisclosed location, according to officials. AP

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP): A gunman shot and wounded a Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial in the country's capital yesterday, then entered Parliament, where numerous shots rang out, police and witnesses said.

People fled Parliament by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, witnesses said. Others were in lockdown. Police with rifles and body armour stood guard outside and blocked the normally bustling streets leading to Parliament.

Ottawa police Constable Marc Soucy said it was unclear whether there was more than one shooter.

The attack came two days after a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run before being shot to death by police. The killer had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.

Canada had raised its domestic terror threat level from low to medium Tuesday because of "an increase in general chatter from radical Islamist organisations", said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the public safety minister.

In yesterday's attack, Soucy said shots were also fired at a shopping mall near Parliament. All three sites - the National War Memorial, Parliament and the mall - are within less than a mile from each other.

The top spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Harper was safe and had left Parliament Hill.

Cabinet minister Tony Clement tweeted that at least 30 shots were heard inside Parliament, where Conservative and Liberal MPs were holding their weekly caucus meetings.

"I'm safe locked in a office awaiting security," Kyle Seeback, another member of Parliament, tweeted.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police warned people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and rooftops.

The wounded soldier was taken away in an ambulance. His condition was not immediately known.