Canada hunts suspects in series of knife attacks that left 10 dead and 15 injured

WELDON, Saskatchewan, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Canadian police have been searching for two suspects in a stabbing attack that killed 10 people and injured at least 15 others, mostly in a sparsely populated Indigenous community on Sunday morning.

The stabbings at 13 crime scenes were among the deadliest mass murders in modern Canadian history and are sure to reverberate throughout the country, which is unaccustomed to episodes of mass violence more commonly seen in United States. Read more

“I am shocked and devastated by the horrific attacks today,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. “As Canadians, we mourn with all those affected by this tragic violence and with the people of Saskatchewan.”

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Police named the two suspects as Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, providing photos and descriptions but without further details on their motive or the victims.

A statement from Indigenous leaders said the attacks could be drug-related.

“This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities,” the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said. The group represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

A mother of two was among the 10 people killed, local media reported, citing the woman’s former partner.

“It’s crazy how prison, drugs and alcohol can destroy so many lives,” Michael Brett Burns told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

In May, Myles Sanderson was listed as “illegally at large” by Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers, a program that encourages the public to cooperate with police. There were no further details on why he was wanted.

The pair were seen traveling in a black Nissan Rogue and spotted in the city of Regina, about 320 km (200 miles) south of the attacks in the James Smith Cree Nation and village of Weldon, police said.

“It appears that some of the victims were targeted, and some may be random. So to speak of a motive would be extremely difficult at this point,” said Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan. a press conference.

There may be other injured victims who have been transported to various hospitals, police said.

The James Smith Cree Nation is an aboriginal community with a population of approximately 3,400 people primarily engaged in farming, hunting and fishing. Weldon is a village of about 200 people.

The country’s former elected officials have declared a state of emergency “in response to the numerous killings and assaults on members of the James Smith Cree Nation” and have established two emergency operations centers, the country said in a statement. communicated.

Aboriginal people make up less than 5% of Canada’s population of approximately 38 million and suffer from lower levels of poverty, unemployment and lower life expectancies than other Canadians.

Trudeau said his government has been in direct communication with leaders of James Smith’s Cree Nation, adding, “We stand ready to help in any way we can.”

The first stabbings were reported at 5:40 a.m. (1140 GMT) and within three hours police issued a dangerous person alert across the province. In the afternoon, similar alerts were also issued in the neighboring provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.

The police bulletins urged people to report anyone suspicious and take precautions, including sheltering in place, while warning against picking up hitchhikers or approaching suspicious people.

“Do not leave a safe place. Exercise caution in allowing others to enter your residence,” one notice said.

A police alert issued shortly after noon said they could be in Regina, one of the province’s largest cities, where a large police presence was already mobilized due to a Canadian football game at Mosaic Stadium near downtown.

However, Blackmore said it’s unclear where the suspects may be heading or if they’ve changed vehicles.

“It’s horrific what happened in our province today,” Blackmore said, calling the attacks one of the biggest, if not the biggest in the province’s recent history.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority activated an emergency response by mobilizing additional staff to care for the victims, later stating that “the risk of a high influx of patient transfers due to this situation is no longer significant.”

“We can confirm that multiple people have been triaged and cared for across multiple sites and a call for additional staff to help respond to this situation has taken place,” the health authority said in a statement.

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Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa and Michael Martina in Washington; Written by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Mark Porter, Lisa Shumaker and Michael Perry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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