Driver who ran over two Canadian soldiers near
Montreal ‘had become radicalized,’ PMO says
There are “clear indications” that a 25-year old man who injured two Canadian soldiers in a hit-and-run Monday near Montreal “had become radicalized,” the Prime Minister’s Office says.
Police shot a driver after he ran over two Canadian soldiers in a mall parking lot, Quebec provincial police said. The driver died a few hours later.
One of the two soldiers was seriously injured.
“We fear for his life,” said Sgt. Joyce Kemp with Sûreté du Québec. The other soldier sustained minor injuries, she said.
The government issued a statement Monday night saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been briefed by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson, and National Security Adviser Stephen Rigby.
“The individual who struck the two CAF members with his car is known to federal authorities, including the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team,” said the statement from Jason MacDonald, the prime minister’s spokesman.
“Federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalized. As Canada’s national security agencies have said, Canadians should remain vigilant.”
Earlier, during question period in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Randy Hoback referenced what he called “unconfirmed reports” of a “possible terror attack,” and asked Prime Minister Harper for an update on the situation.
“We are aware of these reports,” Harper replied. “They’re obviously extremely troubling … We’re closely monitoring the situation and obviously we will make available all of the resources of the federal government.”
Asked about Mr. Hoback’s assertion, the Sûrété du Québec said it could not confirm whether the attack on the soldiers was targeted. Sgt. Kemp could not confirm whether the soldiers were in uniform when they were struck.
Sûreté du Québec spokesman Lieut. Guy Lapointe said it is too early to determine whether the military personnel were deliberately targeted. “All I can say is that the theory that this is a deliberate act is part of what we’ll be looking at,” he said. “But it’s really too early to speculate at this point.”
Neither Harper nor Hoback indicated who was reporting that the hit-and-run was a possible terrorist attack. Reached after question period, Hoback had no comment; Harper’s office did not respond to repeated questions.
“I think it’s a mistake to start drawing conclusions on such limited information, especially as to motive,” NDP leader Tom Mulcair said after question period. “So I was a bit surprised by the interplay between the Prime Minister and one of his backbenchers when we’re still waiting for any information from the police. Let the police do their job and then we’ll know whether we’re dealing with the type of situation they’ve described.”
After he allegedly hit the Canadian Forces personnel in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the driver fled the scene and police cruisers followed close behind. Police say the man lost control of his car and flipped it into a ditch near an intersection. The suspect climbed out of his car and officers shot him, police said.
Because the local police were involved in a fatality, another police force, in this case the Sûrété du Québec, has taken over the investigation. Police were reconstructing the scene Monday afternoon, with the brown car still upside down in the ditch. A knife lay next to the car, underneath a bag. Kemp would not confirm reports the driver had previously charged at police with the knife.
“At this point, it’s too soon to say,” Kemp said.”The investigation is still in its early stages.”
The possibility of Canadian Forces personnel being targeted in Canada was raised last week after the Department of National Defence prevented reporters from interviewing military members leaving to participate in the combat mission to Iraq. Media were also forbidden from talking to the families of those who were leaving, or taking photos that would identify individuals.
With a file from The Canadian Press
Allen McInnis/Postmedia NewsThe scene where two soldiers were hit and run in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu near Montreal on