Canada not immune to terror attacks: PM Harper
By Ajit Jain
Toronto, Oct 23 (IANS) No Canadian wuld believe that their country is under attack and that the attack comes from within, from homegrown extremists.
And this is exactly what happened when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, holding a high-powered rifle, first shot a reservist military officer, a 24-year-old man, at about 9.30 a.m. Wednesday, forced a motorist out of his car, drove the car straight to Parliament Hill, the most secure and sacred place in the country and, with the rifle at the ready, forced his way to the central block when the party caucuses were in progress with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his cabinet members, opposition leader Thomas Muclair and hundreds of MPs in the two rooms.
He could have done a great deal of harm, but then, as the shooting began, alert Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and security personnel started chasing the man inside the parliament building and there was gunfire all over.
Reports say Harper was immediately removed to a secure location through a secure underground tunnel. And Conservative MPs closed their doors from inside, moving tables and chairs to secure the doors.
And the Sergeant-at-Arms, who’s called the chief security officer for the parliament buildings, and whose duties are more ceremonial, rushed to his office close by and picked up his handgun, laid down on the floor and aimed at the terrorist, took five shots and was able to bring him down.
That was not the end of the high chase drama as there was an impression there was a second gunman with him. That was when the entire building was closed down, so also places in the neighbourhood of the huge complex, but that was fortunately not so.
This home-grown terrorist attack, followed the tragic attack a day earlier when another home-grown terrorist rammed his car into the car of an army officer and killed him on the spot in Quebec.
Speaking from his official residence in Ottawa, Prime Minister Harper spoke about the “savagery to our shores”.
“In the days to come, we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had, but this week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world,” said Harper after his absence from public eye for 10 hours.
The tragedy in Ottawa is a result of Canada joining the US-led aerial attacks against the Islamic State (IS) Sunni radical group in Iraq and Syria, many analysts said.
“We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated,” said Harper in his TV address.
“This will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home, just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organisations who brutalise those in other countries” with a hope of attacking Canada, he said.