Canada’s capital faced a third day of heightened security on Friday as the police searched to find out whether the man who shot and killed a soldier and charged into the Parliament building had got help in plotting his attack.
Groups of Ottawa residents gathered early around the national war memorial where the soldier, Nathan Cirillo, 24, was slain on Wednesday at the start of a brazen daylight attack by a man police identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old Canadian citizen.
“I feel tremendous sadness,” said April Hall, 43, a doctor from London, Ontario, as she sat near the monument wiping tears from her eyes. “This is a memorial to those who sacrificed their lives for Canada, and there was a sacrifice right here on the spot,” said Hall.
The attack by Zehaf-Bibeau, who according to US sources was a recent convert to Islam, came two days after another incident in Quebec, in which Martin Rouleau, 25 and also a recent convert, drove over two soldiers, killing one.
Both men were shot dead by security officers.
The attacks on soldiers came during a week when the Canadian military sent six jet fighters to the Middle East to take part in a campaign of the air strikes against Islamic State militants.
The police said Zehaf-Bibeau had travelled to Ottawa seeking a passport and that he had intended to travel to Syria, a hot spot of Islamic State activity.
Canadian officials vowed to continue their military efforts and on Friday two long-range patrol aircraft were due to depart from Nova Scotia for the Middle East.
Separately on Friday, Turkish officials reported that an unidentified yellow powder was found at the Canadian consulate in Istanbul, with the German and Belgian consulates receiving similar packages, according to the Turkish media.
‘A REAL SHAME’
Police were stationed at regular points along the wall surrounding the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, where metal barricades blocked the entrances to an area popular with tourists.
Bouquets of flowers were stuck into the gate’s scrollwork, as workers and visitors adapted to the tighter security restrictions in a city normally proud of its openness.
“It is a real shame,” said Ian Campbell, 57, a government worker. “I don’t know how you stop somebody from doing this kind of thing.”
Officials planned to move Cirillo’s body from Ottawa to his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, on Friday, along a 500-kilometre stretch of highway called the ‘Highway of Heroes’ in honour of soldiers.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police commissioner Bob Paulson on Thursday said investigators had linked Zehaf-Bibeau to someone charged with what he called a terrorist-related offence. He did not give details other than saying that Zehaf-Bibeau’s email was found in the hard drive of that person, but vowed to rapidly learn if others had helped Zehaf-Bibeau plan his attack. Zehaf-Bibeau, who was born in Montreal, had lived in Calgary for a period, according to the police.