'There will be no safe haven': Canadian PM Harper vows action after terror attack on Parliament


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a captive national audience only hours after a shooting at Parliament Hill that Canada will stop at nothing to bring those who threaten his nation to justice.

Harper made the defiant remarks in a short statement Wednesday night after a Muslim gunman shot dead a Canadian soldier and stormed parliament with a loaded gun looking for blood. The assailant, said to be Michael Zehalf-Bibeau, was gunned down by capitol security.

"We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated," said Harper.

The prime minister's assurances came after Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot dead at the Canadian National War Memorial by Zehaf-Bibeau, officials said.

Zehaf-Bibeau was cut down in a hail of bullets, heroically killed by the sergeant-at-arms.

Cirillo died for standing guard over the tomb of the unknown soldier, at the National War Monument, just before 10:00 a.m. Wednesday. His killer's identity was first reported by CBS News.

"Captain Cerillo was killed today in cold blood," said Harper. "Canada is not immune to the types of terror attacks we have seen elsewhere in the world."

Zehaf-Bibeau reportedly changed his name from Michael Joseph Hall after recently converting to Islam. It is not known if he had ties to ISIS, was an ISIS sympathizer or acted on his own volition.

His picture was reportedly first circulated on Twitter by an ISIS-affiliated account.

"We will redouble our efforts to fight against terrorist organizations around the world," Harper vowed. "There will be no safe haven for those who try to bring savagery to our shores."

It still is not clear if there is more than one shooting suspect being sought after by Ottawa authorities. Harper did not address that angle, or how Canada would further hunt down terror suspects.

Several blocks of Ottawa remained on lockdown late into the night.

Authorities from multiple branches of law enforcement all danced around answering whether there was more than one suspect during an afternoon press conference, but did admit they did not see the attack coming.

"It caught us by surprise," an unusually candid Gilles Michaud, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Division, commanding officer admitted. "It's too early to get to the bottom of what transpired."

Michaud and others refused to confirm the Zehaf-Bibeau's religion despite rampant speculation on U.S. cable news that the suspect was a Muslim.

Multiple officials referred to the situation as "dynamic" and "fluid," but infuriated reporters by deciding against directly answering if there was more than on shooter.

The soldier died around 1:00 p.m., sources told the AFP. He was a reservist based out of Hamilton, in suburban Toronto, according to Canadian media.

"Today is a sad and tragic day for our city and our country," said Ottawa mayor Jim Watson. "There's no pain greater than losing a loved one, to have it happen under such circumstances is beyond expression."

Three other people with minor injuries were also reportedly released late Wednesday afternoon from local hospitals.

Zehaf-Bibeau first approached the soldier standing at the war memorial, on Parliament Hill across the street from the Parliament, according to the CBC. He fired four shots in rapid succession as soldiers chased after him, a witness told the network.

"I saw the gunman run across the street with a rifle in his right hand," the witness added. "He ran towards Parliament Hill."

Gunfire erupted as the bearded, scarf-wearing assailant entered the Parliament. Anywhere from 30 to 50 shots were fired, according to various reports.

Dramatic video from the Toronto Globe and Mail shows the hail of gunfire inside the Parliament. Sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers reportedly shot Zehaf-Bibeau dead.

The building and surrounding area were immediately placed under lockdown amid reports there may be more than one gunman.

Varying reports have claimed suspects could be on rooftops with high-powered rifles or even on motorbikes, but nothing has been confirmed.

Gunfire has reportedly erupted around the city at various times, including at a nearby hotel and near the Rideau Shopping Center, have emerged. But no further details have been made available.

Early reports indicated shots were fired inside the shopping mall, but a spokesperson reached by AOL News said: "I can definitely deny that."

The shot soldier slumped over and was bleeding as the scene unfolded at Parliament. He is one of two soldiers who stand guard at the monument 24-hours-a-day, according to the CBC.

Passersby began performing CPR on the critically wounded soldier in a desperate attempt to save his life until about half a dozen paramedics arrived.

The soldier was rushed to a hospital, he is said by the CBC to be in serious condition and has since succumbed to his injuries.

Pictures from the scene show various law enforcement and military agencies assuming tactical positions in the area around Parliament Hill as late as 11:00 a.m.

Not motives have yet been established, but all Canadian Armed Forces bases were closed Wednesday morning to public entry as a precaution. Also closed down are all bridges from Ottawa to the neighboring city of Gatineau.

PM Harper cancelled a meeting with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Toronto.

An NHL hockey game scheduled for Wednesday evening between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, has been postponed until further notice.

Wednesday's incident came only one day after one Canadian soldier was killed in a hit-and-run accident labeled a terrorist attack by Prime Minister Harper.

Both attacks came only days after the country announced it was joining the U.S.-led assault on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. authorities have taken a number of measures in response to the incidents including placing the American Embassy in Ottawa on lockdown and placing NORAD on higher alert should any threat to airlines emerge.

Soldier Killed In Canada Shootings
Soldier Killed In Canada Shootings

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