Police are investigating whether the attempted stabbing of two soldiers at a Canadian Forces recruiting station in North Toronto was a terrorist act.
No one was seriously injured during the Monday afternoon attack at a government office building in North York. But it occurred amid concerns that extremists may try to attack uniformed soldiers and officers in retaliation for Ottawa’s continuing military role in the campaign against the Islamic State.
More details are expected to be revealed by authorities on Tuesday.
On Monday evening, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters he is working with federal detectives and intelligence officers, after the suspect made comments suggesting his motivations may have been fuelled by extremism.
“About 3:30 today, a lone person walked into the Canadian Forces recruiting centre,” the chief said, describing the attack at the Yonge and Sheppard building. “For absolutely no reason, for unprovoked reasons, he brandished a knife and attacked one of the members.”
Speaking to CP24, Chief Saunders described how up to eight Canadian Forces personnel at the recruiting station subdued the alleged attacker. Two soldiers got hurt with non-life-threatening stab wounds.
A 27-year-old was taken into police custody after being brought to hospital for examination.
There was no word yet on what charges he may face.
Chief Saunders did not say what inflammatory comments the man may have uttered.
He did say Toronto Police are now working with federal authorities – specifically the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service – to see if the violence could be considered akin to a terrorism-inspired assault.
Under Canadian law, the suspect could face a significantly higher jail sentence if found guilty of violent acts intended to inhibit federal forces or the wider public from pursuing Canada’s political objectives.
The Canadian Forces are currently part of the U.S.-led military campaign that aims to recapture land that the Islamic State has captured in Syria and Iraq. The Canadian mission is now focused on military training, though until recently it centred on bombing runs by war jets.
Shortly after Parliament voted in favour of that bombing campaign in October, 2014, two Canadian Forces soldiers were killed by two extremists in separate attacks just days apart. Both of these suspects were shot dead by police, who later said they had been thwarted in their attempts to join Islamic State forces operating in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
During Monday’s hastily arranged press conference outside the government building at 4900 Yonge St., Chief Saunders said that terrorism “is one of the angles we are strongly looking at at this point in time.”
But, he added: “We don’t’ have a clear understanding of what the motivation is.”Report Typo/Error