ISLAMABAD: A man driving a pick-up truck slammed into and killed four members of a Pakistani Muslim family in Canada´s Ontario province, in what police and officials said Monday was a premeditated attack motivated by "hatred".
A 20-year-old suspect wearing a vest "like body armour" fled the scene on Sunday evening, and was arrested at a mall seven kilometres from the intersection in London, Ontario where the attack happened, said Detective Superintendent Paul Waight. "There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate. It is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim," he told a news conference.
Canada´s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair described it as a "horrific act of Islamophobia." "They believe the family was targeted because of their faith, and that the attacker was motivated by his hatred of Muslims," he said.
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 Afzaal’s mother, age 74.
Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday strongly condemned the killing of four members of a Pakistani Muslim family in Canada, and said this revealed the growing Islamophobia in Western countries which needs to be countered holistically by the world community.
“Saddened to learn the killing of a Muslim Pakistani-origin Canadian family in London, Ontario. This condemnable act of terrorism reveals the growing Islamophobia in Western countries. Islamophobia needs to be countered holistically by the international community,” he tweeted.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to take more action to dismantle far-right groups after a hate-motivated attack. "This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities," Trudeau said in the House of Commons after observing a moment of silence.
"We'll continue to fight hate online and offline ... (including) taking more action to dismantle far-right hate groups, like we did with the Proud Boys by adding them to Canada's terror listing," said Trudeau.
London Mayor Ed Holder said it was the worst mass murder in his city's history. A vigil was scheduled for Tuesday night at the mosque the family attended. Trudeau and other federal political party leaders were scheduled to attend.
The Foreign Office while condemning the killing of a Pakistan-origin family said it was yet another manifestation of the systematic rise in Islamophobia. In response to media queries, the Foreign Office spokesman said such incidents reinforced the imperative for the international community to work together for interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence.
“We strongly condemn the Islamophobic incident that resulted in the tragic death of four family members of Pakistani origin, in London, Ontario,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar strongly condemned a premeditated attack on a Pakistani family in Ontario. The CM extended sympathies to the heirs saying that he fully shares their grief and pain.
The PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz also strongly condemned the incident and termed it “hate driven act of terrorism.” The members of the National Assembly while condemning the gruesome murder called upon the international community to take serious notice of increasing incidents of Islamphobia and acts of terrorism in western world.
The House offered Fateha for the departed souls of Pakistani Canadian nationals in a premeditated truck attack and those died in road accidents in Kohistan and Mansehra districts. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the western world to take notice of the growing trend of Islamophobia and take appropriate measures to eliminate this menace.
In his policy statement in the National Assembly, he said killing of four Pakistani Canadian citizens is a demonstration of hate crimes. He said chances of terrorism cannot be ruled out in this incident.
The foreign minister said the aggrieved family has been living peacefully in Canada for the last 10 years, but became victim of the hatred due to its Islamic belief. He said the entire Pakistani nation is feeling grief over this inhuman and tragic incident. He said he, during his conversation with Canadian high commissioner, conveyed the emotions of the people of Pakistan in this matter. He said Pakistan High Commission in Canada is in contact with the aggrieved family to offer any kind of assistance.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the Pakistani and Muslim community living in Canada should reach out to the aggrieved family to console with it and attend their funeral, pray for them after Jumaa prayers and organize Ghaibana Nimaz-e-Janaza.
PMLN leader Ahsan Iqbal proposed that a conference in cooperation with the International Parliamentary Union should be convened to address the issue of Islamophobia. PPP leader Abdul Qadir Patel said a parliamentary delegation comprising representation from the opposition and the treasury benches should immediately be dispatched to Canada and other countries to raise the issue of Islamophobia.
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