10 killed, 15 injured as van plows into crowded Toronto sidewalk; driver arrested

1 / 4
Officials carry a body into a vehicle after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into pedestrians in Toronto on April 23, 2018. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)
2 / 4
A tarp lays on top of a body on Yonge St. at Finch Ave. after a van plowed into pedestrians on April 23, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP)
3 / 4
Police inspect a van suspected of being involved in a collision injuring at least eight people at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. on April 23, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP)
4 / 4
A police officer stands next to a victim of an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on April 23, 2018. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
Updated 24 April 2018
0

10 killed, 15 injured as van plows into crowded Toronto sidewalk; driver arrested

  • Authorities say Alek Minassian, 25, appeared to have acted deliberately; he was later arrested in a confrontation with police.
  • The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the G7 countries were gathered in Toronto to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June

TORONTO: A van jumped onto a crowded sidewalk in Toronto on Monday, killing 10 pedestrians and injuring 15 and in what witnesses and police said was a deliberate act.

Authorities said the driver, identified as Alek Minassian, fled but was later arrested in a confrontation with police.

Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police officials would not comment on the cause or any possible motive.

Speaking at a news conference Monday night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders raised the initial death toll of nine to 10, saying another victim had died at a hospital. He said 15 others were hospitalized.

"The incident definitely looked deliberate," he said.

Saunders said Minassian was a 25-year-old resident of the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill. He said the suspect had not been known to police previously.

Asked if there was any evidence of a connection to international terrorism, the chief said only, “Based on what we have there’s nothing that has it to compromise the national security at this time.”

But a senior national government official said earlier that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely terrorism was the motive. The official agreed to reveal that information only if not quoted by name.

Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still underway, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined.

“I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation,” Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen said earlier.

The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.

Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph.

“He just went on the sidewalk,” a distraught Shaker said. “He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit.”

Witness Peter Kang told CTV News that the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop.

“If it was an accident he would have stopped,” Kang said. “But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped.”

A witness, Phil Zullo, told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting a man who had been driving a Ryder rental truck and saw people “strewn all over the road” where the incident occurred.

“I must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers,” Zullo said. “It was awful. Brutal.”

The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June.

The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.

Video broadcast on several Canadian outlets showed police arresting the driver, dressed in dark clothes, after officers surrounded him and his rental Ryder van several blocks from where the incident occurred in the North York neighborhood of northern Toronto. He appeared to make some sort of gesture at the police with an object in his hand just before they ordered him to lie down on the ground and took him away.

Police shut down the Yonge and Finch intersection following the incident and Toronto’s transit agency said it had suspended service on the subway line running through the area.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies for those involved. “Our hearts go out to everyone affected,” Trudeau said in Ottawa. “We are going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours.”

Buildings and workplaces in the area were locked down, and a nearby subway station was closed and service suspended. Bystander Essy Taeb told Toronto’s CP24 television the scene was chaotic.

“Everyone was running all over the place,” Taeb said. 
 


Brazilian police arrest fugitive US has linked to Hezbollah

Updated 38 min 45 sec ago
0

Brazilian police arrest fugitive US has linked to Hezbollah

SAO PAULO: Brazilian police on Friday arrested a fugitive sought in Paraguay who is accused by US officials of belonging to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and of being a key financier of terrorism.
Police took Assad Ahmad Barakat into custody in the border city of Foz do Iguacu, which is home to the famous Iguazu Falls and sits where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet.
Authorities in Paraguay are seeking Barakat on allegations of false representation, police said, and Brazil's Supreme Court authorized his arrest earlier this month. The Brazilian federal prosecutor's office said in a statement that Barakat's case meets the requirements for an arrest with a view to extradition.
In Paraguay, Barakat is accused of presenting a declaration of incorrect nationality and omitting information about the loss of nationality, the prosecutors' statement said. Barakat was born in Lebanon but has lived in South America for years.
Prosecutors said they had information that Barakat applied for refugee status in Brazil when he learned of Paraguay's arrest warrant, but that only the recognition of refugee status would prevent his extradition, which was not the case here.
In 2004, the US Treasury Department accused Barakat of serving as a treasurer for Hezbollah, which it considers a terrorist organization, and ordered American banks to freeze any of his assets found in the United States. At the time, Barakat was serving time in a Paraguayan prison for tax evasion. Two years later it added several of his associates to its watchlist, on which Barakat remains.
Brazilian police said Argentine authorities have accused associates of Barakat of laundering $10 million in a scheme in casinos, and they have frozen the group's assets.
Barakat was extradited from Brazil to Paraguay in 2003 and was convicted of tax evasion. He returned to live in Brazil in 2008 after he was released from prison, police said.