- 10 dead and 15 injured as pedestrians struck during lunch time.
- The suspect has been named by police as Alek Minassian, 25.
- Reports suggest driver not involved with any organised militant group.
- Praise for officer’s restraint as Toronto van attack suspect screamed ‘kill me’
A white rental van has killed 10 people and injured 16 after deliberately ploughing into pedestrians on a busy, mile-long street in Toronto.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders identified the suspect as Alek Minassian, 25, who he said had not previously been known to authorities.
“The actions definitely looked deliberate,” he told a news conference close to the site of the incident in the northern suburbs of Canada’s biggest city, noting the van had been driven along the pavement.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp, citing government officials, said Minassian was not associated with any organised militant group.
Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale added: “There would appear to be no national security connections.”
The incident was described by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “tragic and senseless attack”, and is one of the most violent in recent Canadian history.
Trudeau said in a statement: “It was with great sadness that I heard about the tragic and senseless attack that took place in Toronto this afternoon.
“We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities.”
The van struck just before 1.30 pm - or 5.30pm UK time - as large crowds of office workers were on lunch breaks.
Some witnesses suggested the casualties were found in different locations as pictures from the scene showed bodies covered by tarpaulin.
A man who gave his name as Ali told CNN he saw the van and that the driver appeared to have been targeting people.
“This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody,” the man said.
“He kept going, he kept going. People were getting hit, one after another.”
Video posted to social media showed desperate attempts to help those who appeared injured.
Aerial photos of the scene showed a food truck parked just a few feet away from where emergency workers busily transferred people onto stretchers.
At least one person was struck outside on the sidewalk outside an Anglican church, north of where the van came to rest in front of a currency exchange in a condominium tower.
John Flengas, acting superintendent in the city’s paramedic services, said: “It’s unprecedented. We’ve never seen anything like this in the city of Toronto.”
The incident came as foreign ministers from G7 nations met in the Canadian city for talks.
Reuters news agency reported that security around the hotel which is hosting several of the ministers had not noticeably changed.
Last month, a former Canadian university student pleaded guilty to killing six men praying in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.
In September, a Somali refugee who was charged with attempted murder on allegations he ran down four pedestrians with a car and stabbed a police officer outside a sports stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.