Toronto police monitoring local mosques following New Zealand attack
A deadly mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand is prompting law enforcement officials to step up security efforts at mosques and other places of worship around the world this morning.
At least 49 people were killed and 20 more were seriously injured while praying at two separate mosques in the city of Christchurch around noon local time on Friday. Video footage from the attack was broadcast live as it unfolded by an Australian gunman whose published 74-page dossier has been described as a racist "work of hate."
Calling the tragedy a "well-planned terrorist attack," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is only one of many world leaders who've expressed concern for the safety of Muslim peoples following the incident.
Attacking people during prayers is absolutely appalling, and Canada strongly condemns today’s shootings in New Zealand. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the victims and their families, and we join New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world in grieving.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 15, 2019
"What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence," said Ardern in a statement on Friday. "It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities—New Zealand is their home—they are us."
Five people have been arrested in connection with the attack, but police remain unsure as to how many others may have been involved. All flights coming into or out of Christchurch have been temporarily cancelled as a result, and New Zealand's terrorism threat level has been raised to "high."
Canada's threat level remains unchanged, but public officials are on high alert given the similarity of this attack to others targeting Muslims in our country's recent history.
On behalf of @TorontoPolice I want to send our condolences to those impacted by the heinous attacks in New Zealand. Please be assured that police officers will be patrolling your communities today, visiting mosques and other places of worship, to ensure everyone’s safety— Mark Saunders (@marksaunderstps) March 15, 2019
"Far too often, Muslims suffer unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
"Canada condemns this attack, and will continue to work closely with New Zealand, our close partner and friend, and others to take action against violent extremism," he continued.
"Hate has no place anywhere. We must all confront Islamophobia and work to create a world in which all people—no matter their faith, where they live, or where they were born—can feel safe and secure."
Two police officers just walked into the Toronto Mosque and asked to the see the Imam.— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) March 15, 2019
They, then, proceeded to question him.
“Are you feeling safe?”
“Are you okay?”
“Can we do anything to help?”#ChristchurchAttack #ChristchurchMosqueAttack pic.twitter.com/ZbNBiieCa9
Police forces around the GTA are taking precautions in the wake of these attacks to ensure that local Muslims are safe and feel comfortable during prayer gatherings.
York Region police are monitoring the Baitul Islam Mosque in Maple by helicopter today, according to CP24, though officers say that no place in the area has been targeted or threatened.
Expect a heightened uniformed police presence around all places of worship across York Region. Officers are there to assure you feel safe and secure as you continue with your daily routines.— York Regional Police (@YRP) March 15, 2019
Police in Peel and Durham Regions are similarly stepping up uniformed patrols around mosques ahead of Friday's weekly prayer.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders announced Friday morning that officers would be "visiting mosques and other places of worship, to ensure everyone's safety" within the city.
GTA police services step up patrols around mosques in response to N.Z. mass shooting, with York police sending its chopper to hover over a mosque in Vaughan https://t.co/5ZTZYDeUfo pic.twitter.com/FjqtDVEuq8— CP24 (@CP24) March 15, 2019
A vigil will be held for victims of the New Zealand terror attack this evening around 6 p.m. at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square.
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