OTTAWA (AFP) – A stabbing spree in an Indigenous community and a nearby town in Canada’s Saskatchewan province left at least 10 people dead and 15 wounded on Sunday, police said, as they launched a manhunt for two suspects in one of the nation’s deadliest incidents of mass violence.
Police responding to emergency calls found 10 dead in the remote Indigenous community of James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby town of Weldon, Saskatchewan, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore told a news conference.
She said at least 15 other people had been wounded and transported to hospitals.
“It is horrific what has occurred in our province today,” she said. “We are actively looking for the two suspects.”
The alleged attackers fled in a vehicle and have been identified as Myles and Damien Sanderson, aged 30 and 31 respectively, both with black hair and brown eyes.
The James Smith Cree Nation, with a population of 2,500, declared a local state of emergency, while many residents of Saskatchewan province were urged to shelter in place.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attacks “horrific and heartbreaking” in a tweet, offering condolences and urging residents to heed authorities’ instructions.
Blackmore said authorities believe “some of the victims were targetted by the suspects and others were attacked randomly”.
“To speak to a motive would be extremely difficult at this point in time,” she added. No information was released about the victims.
Television images showed a few rural homes in fields of tall grass and trees, cordoned off with police tape, while on social media locals shared images of the attacks’ aftermath, such as the broken door handle to a burgled home.
Weldon resident Diane Shier told local media her neighbour, a man who lived with his grandson, was killed in the attack.
“I am very upset because I lost a good neighbour,” she told the Canadian Press news agency.
In recent years, Canada has witnessed a rampaging gunman masquerading as a policeman kill 22 people in Nova Scotia, another kill six and wound five worshippers at a Quebec City mosque, and a driver of a van mow down pedestrians in Toronto killing 10 and injuring 16.
The death toll from the van attack rose to 11 when an injured woman who had spent more than three years in hospital also succumbed to her injuries.
“There are no words to adequately describe the pain and loss caused by this senseless violence,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe after Sunday’s attack.