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Edmonton Attack: Canadian Authorities Investigating Possible Terrorism

4 people were injured when a van rammed into pedestrians.

02/10/2017 6:52 AM AEDT | Updated 06/10/2017 3:41 PM AEDT
Candace Elliott/Reuters
Edmonton Police investigate at the scene where a man hit pedestrians then flipped the U-Haul truck he was driving, pictured at the intersection at 107 Street and 100th Avenue in front of the Matrix Hotel in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Candace Elliott

EDMONTON, Canada (Reuters) - Canadian police on Sunday arrested a man whom authorities said they believe acted alone to carry out violent "attacks of terror" in the western city ofEdmonton, injuring a police officer and four pedestrians with two vehicles and a knife.

A graphic surveillance video shows a Chevy Malibu hitting a police officer standing in front of a football stadium at about 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, sending him flying into the air. The driver gets out of the car and appears to stab the officer multiple times before fleeing.

A flag of the Islamic State militant group was found inside the Malibu, after the suspect ran off, said Rod Knecht, police chief of Edmonton, Alberta's provincial capital.

The suspect, who authorities have not identified, was arrested several hours later following a car chase across a busy downtown street during which he intentionally sought to hit pedestrians, police said.

"To the best of our knowledge, this was a lone wolf attack," Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson told reporters on Sunday. "There's no immediate cause for panic or concern."

U.S. national security agencies strongly lean toward the conclusion that the suspect acted alone, though they are still reviewing the matter, a U.S. official told Reuters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attack in a statement that called it "another example of the hate that we must remain ever vigilant against." Canada's government said it would keep the terror threat level at medium, where it has been since late 2014.

Victims were taken to the hospital for treatment, and the officer's condition was not critical, Knecht said at a morning news conference. Details on the other victims were not immediately available.

Police identified the suspect when he got stopped at a checkpoint and his license showed that he was the owner of the Malibu. He fled the checkpoint and was apprehended after a police chase across a crowded downtown street, during which he hit four pedestrians.

The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council denounced the attack, organizing a Sunday evening rally to bring together members of the community, police and government.

"These types of acts, whether terrorism or not, seek to divide communities. We have to show that's not going to happen, not in Edmonton," said group spokesman Aurangzeb Qureshi.

He said the Muslim community wanted to get ahead of any negative backlash that might come as police release more details from their investigation.

Canada has not experienced as much violence from extremist attacks as the United States and Western European nations, but there have been several deadly incidents in recent years.

In January, a French-Canadian university student was charged with murder after six people were shot and killed inside a Quebec City mosque, in what Trudeau called "a terrorist attack."

In August 2016, Canadian police raided an Ontario home and killed Aaron Driver, who they said was an Islamic State supporter preparing an attack on a Canadian city with a homemade bomb.

In 2014, Canada was stunned by two deadly attacks that police said were the work of homegrown radicals and led to tougher new anti-terrorism measures.

A gunman killed a soldier at Ottawa's national war memorial before launching an attack on the Canadian Parliament in October 2014. In the same week, a man ran down two soldiers in Quebec, killing one.

(Writing by Jim Finkle in Toronto; Reporting by Ethan Lou and Candace Elliott in Edmonton; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver, Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Sandra Maler)

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