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Canadian Prime Minister Speaks After Shots Fired in Parliament

  • VOA News

Canada's prime minister said his country will never be intimidated by terrorists, after a gunman killed a soldier in Ottawa and then stormed Parliament before he was shot dead.

In a televised address Wednesday evening, Stephen Harper said Wednesday's attack, along with another incident this week that led to a soldier's death, are grim reminders that Canada is not immune to terrorism.

The prime minister spoke hours after dozens of gunshots rang out in Canada's parliament buildings in Ottawa when a gunman shot and killed a soldier guarding the nearby Canadian National War Memorial

Gunman identified

Little is known about the assailant, identified as ex-convict Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, who was fatally shot.

Witnesses to the attack at the memorial said the gunman appeared to raise his arms in triumph before entering Canada’s Parliament where dozens of shots soon rang out.

According to those present, many fled the complex by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, while others took cover inside and barricaded doors with chairs as police with rifles and body armor took up positions outside and cordoned off the normally bustling streets around Parliament.

On Twitter, Canada's justice minister and other government officials credited 58-year-old sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers with shooting the attacker just outside the lawmakers' caucus rooms.

Vickers serves a largely ceremonial role at the House of Commons, carrying a scepter and wearing rich green robes, white gloves and a tall imperial hat.

Terrorist link

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, appeared to link the attack to Canada's participation in the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State group.

Earlier this week an Islamic convert in a car ran down two Canadian soldiers, killing one, near Montreal.

President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Prime Minister Harper after Wednesday's attacks and said it was important for U.S. and Canadian counterterrorism authorities to continue working in sync.

Obama condemned the attacks on Canadian forces, and offered any U.S. assistance Canada needs in responding to the situation to the prime minister.

Obama said the U.S. is monitoring the Canadian situation and will do everything it can to protect the American people.

Watch video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke

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