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Ayanle Hassan Ali is shown in a police handout photo.

The Canadian Press

A man charged in a double stabbing at an armed forces recruiting centre in Toronto was remanded in custody Friday as his lawyer scrambles to find potential bail sureties.

Ayanle Hassan Ali, 27, said nothing as he appeared briefly in court dressed in a white T-shirt on his second such appearance since the incident on Monday in which two Canadian Armed Forces soldiers were slightly injured.

He will appear again March 24.

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"We're still in the process of examining possibilities for bail (and) checking out sureties," lawyer David Burke said outside court. "It will be a very difficult bail."

Ali, who was born in Montreal but moved to Toronto in 2011, faces a total of nine charges, including three counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault. Police said a man holding a knife walked into a government building and attacked two unformed soldiers. Other military personnel were able to subdue him.

Burke said he had no issue with comments from Toronto's police chief Mark Saunders, who cited witnesses as saying the man said after the stabbing: "Allah told me to do this; Allah told me to come here and kill people."

"That's right now what the chief of police is saying and I have no particular reason to disbelieve him, but I haven't seen any exact evidence of that myself," Burke said. "At some point, it will come out what was said and what wasn't."

An ongoing police investigation involves anti-terrorism officers from the RCMP and other security agencies, but so far, what sparked the stabbing remains unclear.

"I understand there's a certain amount of anxiety in society these days when anything of this nature happens," Burke said. "We may find there has been to some degree an over-reaction, but that remains to be seen."

Some relatives of the man have said his mother is mentally ill and that he'd been living reclusively with her in recent years.

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Burke said it was too early to discuss his client's state of mind.

"The whole mental-health assessment thing is something that will have to be considered at some point," the lawyer said. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

The lawyer also said his client was holding up well but was "very upset" at the situation.

"Of course, it's a very scary process for him," Burke said.

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