Canadian police are searching for two suspects in Monday’s knife attacks in two remote cities that killed 10 and injured 15, one of whom is indigenous.
The massacre in the James Smith Cree Nation and neighboring Weldon is one of the largest acts of mass violence in Canadian history.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter that the attacks were “horrific and heartbreaking” and declared himself “shocked and devastated”.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Deputy Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said following an emergency call, police found 10 bodies on Sunday in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon in Saskatchewan Province.
“Many additional victims were injured, 15 of whom were taken to different hospitals,” he explained. “We are actively looking for two suspects,” and “investigating various crime scenes,” he emphasized.
The suspects were identified as Damien Sanderson and Miles Sanderson, aged 30 and 31 respectively, both with dark hair and brown eyes. They are believed to have run into a black Nissan Rogue, Blackmore said. Police agents were deployed “at full speed” to nab them.
Blackmore said police received the first call at 5:40 a.m. local time (1140 GMT) reporting a James Smith stabbing in the Cree Nation, shortly after several more calls reported other similar attacks.
The official said the callers identified the suspects.
Weldon resident Diane Shearer told Saskatoon star Phoenix that a neighbor of hers, who lived with her adult grandson, was killed in the attack. The grandson allegedly hid in the basement and called the police.
“It was about 7:30. My husband was in the garden. He saw police cars and an ambulance coming into town. It’s a small town. It’s awful, terrible. We still have the doors locked, we’re in.” Live, we don’t want to go out,’ he told the newspaper.
Another neighbor, Ruby Works, said the killings were going to haunt the town for some time. “No one is going to sleep soundly again in this city. They’re going to be afraid to open the door,” Works said.
Robert Rush, who lives in the area, said he had left his granddaughter at home to buy a birthday cake for his wife. “I gave him two pistols and a bat,” he said.
According to Blackmore, while officials believe that “some victims were targeted by suspects and others were targeted randomly,” it is too early to address the motive for these crimes.
The head of the Sovereign Indigenous League of Nations, Bobby Cameron, lamented the “unspeakable violence that has claimed the lives of innocent people”.
Three helicopters were dispatched to the two cities from Saskatoon and Regina, to transport the victims and a doctor to the scene.
Thirteen crime scenes in the Indian community and Weldon were being prepared for leads and extensive searches were underway in three provinces.
The James Smith Cree Nation community, population 2,500, declared a local emergency. Saskatchewan residents were also told to stay indoors for safety.
The suspects were first seen in the provincial capital, Regina, which is about 300 kilometers to the south. The alert and search were later extended to the neighboring provinces of Manitoba and Alberta, a vast region half the size of the European continent.
Blackmore assured that “maximum” police resources have been deployed to find the suspects, although “their location and the direction in which they are traveling are unknown.”
For its part, the Saskatchewan health authority told AFP it had activated emergency protocols to deal with “a large number of critical patients”.
In recent years, Canada has experienced frequent attacks of unusual violence. In April 2020, a man with a gun posing as a police officer killed 22 people in Nova Scotia.