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Several dead in Toronto van attack

Incident not considered part of wider terrorist assault; Canada's threat level remains unchanged

At least ten people have been killed in Toronto after a van appeared to deliberately drive into pedestrians.


The incident, which left at least another 15 people injured, including five in critical condition, occurred in the Yonge Street and Finch Avenue area of Canada’s largest city.


Yonge St


According to police, the driver drove in both north and southbound lanes along a nearly kilometre-long zone over the course of the attack, CBC News reported.


"This is going to be a long investigation," Toronto police Deputy Chief Peter Yuen told reporters, adding that there were numerous witnesses and CCTV cameras in the area.


"There were a lot of pedestrians out enjoying, a lot of witnesses out enjoying the sunny afternoon," Yuen said.


Authorities don’t believe the suspect in custody – college student Alek Minassian, 25 – is linked to any organised terror group.


According to the CBC, Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said there appeared to be no national security connection in this case.   


"The events that happened on the street behind us are horrendous, but they do not appear to be connected in any way to national security based on the information available at this time," he said. As such, Canada's threat level remains unchanged.


Debris at the scene


Witnesses described the scene as chaotic, with still bodies lying on the footpaths.


"I saw the crazy van, like a rental van, hitting the people … one after one," Iranian student Amir Bahmeyeh told the CBC.


"I'm sure it was like a terrorist attack because he drove really fast, like crazy.


"I almost had a heart attack. When I came here people told me it was a safe country and that's why I stayed here."


Another witness was snatched out of the way by a friend.


"She was like, 'Oh my gosh, watch out!'" Bibolli told CBC's As It Happens. 


"Then people really started to panic."


"The sidewalk is always packed around lunchtime, so it was full. And people are screaming and yelling."


Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises Australians travelling to Canada to “exercise normal safety precautions”, the lowest threat advisory.



Both images AP - Nathan Denette / Canadian Press


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 24 April 2018

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