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Canadian parliament put on lockdown after series of shootings

Canada’s national parliament building was placed in lockdown on Tuesday after a series of shootings caused turmoil in the heart of the capital city, Ottawa.

The incident began when a gunman shot and wounded a soldier who was guarding the national war memorial, outside the parliament building, just before 10am, police said.

Moments later, a reporter captured video of an apparent shootout inside the halls of parliament. Soon after, people were being moved away from a third scene at a shopping mall, the Rideau Centre. Police could not confirm whether the mall was the scene of a shooting.

By noon, Ottawa police constable Chuck Benoit said police were searching for as many as three suspects. One person was being questioned by police. Benoit could not confirm whether that person was the shooter, or if others remained on the loose.

“You’re looking at numerous buildings on the scene of the first shooting, so we’ve got a very big scene and different directions where suspects are heading,” he said.

“I do know there’s multiple suspects, so you’re looking at two to three. We’re still looking, we’re still searching,” Benoit said.

Video taken by a reporter for the Globe and Mail showed police officers walking slowly through Parliament toward the entrance with guns drawn. The sound of a gunshot ran out, followed by the sounds of multiple shots.

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper left Parliament Hill and was safe, a spokesperson confired. Harper would have been very near where the shooter entered the main Parliament area, and the government and opposition both hold morning meetings on either side of Hall of Honour.

Cabinet minister Tony Clement tweeted that at least 30 shots were heard inside Parliament, where Conservative and Liberal MPs were holding their weekly caucus meetings.

People in the downtown area were warned to stay away from windows, doors and the downtown area generally, as police continued to expand their search of the area.

Video shot by a reporter showed an apparent shootout inside Parliament Hill.

Police are searching through buildings and have placed the area on lockdown, keeping reporters, MPs and civilians in various areas together and apparently under heavy guard. Cars are being turned away, and witnesses say they heard “dozens” and “at least 30” shots.

The attack came two days after a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run before being shot to death by police. The killer had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.

Canada had raised its domestic terror threat level from low to medium Tuesday because of “an increase in general chatter from radical Islamist organizations,” said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the public safety minister.

Source:Agencies

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