At least 5 dead in Quebec City Mosque shooting

 At least five people have been killed after gunmen opened fire in a mosque in Quebec City on Sunday, the mosque’s president told reporters. Witnesses told Reuters there were up to three gunmen involved and 40 worshippers were inside at the time of the shooting.

The shooting took place at Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec (Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center) on Sainte-Foy Street.

The situation in the mosque is “under control,” and all the people have been evacuated, Quebec police have tweeted. Earlier, a heavily armed special police unit was seen entering the mosque.

A witness told Radio Canada that one of the attackers shouted “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire.

“One started shooting. As soon as he opened fire he shouted, "Allahu akbar!" ("God is great!") The bullets reached people who were praying. People who prayed lost their lives. As for myself, the bullet passed over my head," the witness who refused to be identified said, adding the attackers “seemed to have a very good Québec accent.”

Two suspects have been arrested in the ongoing police operation, according to a Quebec police spokesman. An investigation into the attack has been launched.

Quebec police have confirmed that there were dead and injured in the mosque, without specifying the number of the victims.

“There are many victims ... there are deaths,” a Quebec police spokesman told reporters.

There have been conflicting reports over the number of perpetrators.

Le Soleil reported there were at least two shooters and one of them was wielding a AK-47 assault rifle. One of the attackers is believed to be a 27-year-old man. Up to three shooters were seen by a witness cited by Reuters.

Reports of “many” people injured have appeared in the media.

According to the witness who spoke to Radio Canada, small children as young as three were among the worshippers.

“There were even children too. There was even a three-year-old who was with his father,” he said.

Radio Canada reported the male worshippers were attending the service at the ground floor, while the women and children were praying upstairs.

Police have sealed off traffic in the area.

The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, condemned the shooting as a “cowardly attack.”

“Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families,” Trudeau tweeted.

While the motives of the attackers are not immediately known, media reports cited past attacks on the mosque motivated by Islamophobia. In June last year, a pig’s head was left outside the entrance to the mosque with a note “Bon appétit.”

At the time, Yangui denounced the incident as a hate crime saying that it only resulted in “waste of time, money and energy,” adding that the mosque was equipped with “high-definition cameras” so the perpetrators were caught on tape.

In July, a leaflet littered with Islamophobic language began circulating in the neighborhood where the mosque is located. The leaflet accused the mosque of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, claiming it promotes “violent jihad, sharia law, treatment of women as inferiors and virulent homophobia.”

The allegations that the mosque has ties to the Islamist group were firmly rejected by Yangui, who called them “false from A to Z.”