15 injured after two men set off bomb in Indian restaurant in suburban Toronto, hunt on for suspects
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said the government was keeping track of developments and gave out an emergency number for Indians in Canada to contact.Updated: May 25, 2018, 22:11 IST
Unidentified persons set off a bomb in an Indian restaurant in a Toronto suburb on Thursday night, with the blast injuring 15 people, three seriously.
The blast occurred at the Bombay Bhel restaurant in Mississauga as two separate birthday celebrations were in progress. The members of the families were people of Indian origin. While three were taken to hospital with serious injuries, 12 others suffered minor injuries from the blast.
Peel regional police provided CCTV images of two men wearing hoodies, with their faces covered, entering the restaurant prior to the explosion, and then fleeing.
Police said there was nothing in their investigations so far which suggested terrorism or hate crime, adding that they were ruling nothing out in terms of the possible motive for the attack. An improvised explosive device was used in the attack.
Police chief Jennifer Evans, in a Friday morning conference, said the investigation was in its “early stages”. She said: “Every police resource is being used to locate the people responsible for this horrendous act.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed “solidarity” with the victims of the violence.
Canada’s high commissioner to New Delhi Nadir Patel tweeted authorities were “following closely reports of an explosion at an Indian restaurant in #Mississauga, Ontario. At this time, our thoughts are with those injured in the blast and wishing for their speedy recovery.” Patel is scheduled to appear at an Indian community event in Mississauga on Friday evening.
Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie described the incident as a “heinous crime”.
India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said was monitoring the situation from New Delhi. She tweeted: “I am in constant touch with our Consul General in Toronto and Indian High Commissioner in Canada. Our missions will work round the clock.”
High commissioner Vikas Swarup was also tracking developments.
Officials from the Indian consulate visited both the site of the explosion and the hospitals where the injured were taken. India’s consul general to Toronto Dinesh Bhatia was among those who were at the hospital for a large chunk of the night.
Bhatia told the Hindustan Times: “The consulate opened a helpline immediately after receiving the information about the explosion to extend all possible assistance. We are keeping a close watch on the situation. External affairs minister and ministry of external affairs are fully informed of the developments.”
Local police are coordinating with forces across the region to comb for the two men who fled the restaurant. Police have also sought information from the public in an effort to identify and apprehend suspects.
In a message on Facebook, the restaurant, part of a chain owned by the Nagpal family, stated: “It was an extremely horrific and sad incident that happened at our Hwy 10 location yesterday evening. We want to thank you for all of your support and well wishes, especially to the families that were affected. At this time, the police are undergoing a full investigation to ensure the individuals are apprehended.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed “solidarity” with the victims of the violence. Canada’s high commissioner to New Delhi Nadir Patel tweeted they were “following closely reports of an explosion at an Indian restaurant in #Mississauga, Ontario. At this time, our thoughts are with those injured in the blast and wishing for their speedy recovery.”
Police also posted descriptions of the two men who were witnessed fleeing the scene. The first is a male, between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall, “stocky build, mid-20s, light skin, wearing dark blue jeans, dark zip up hoodie pulled over head, baseball cap with light grey peak, face covered with black cloth material.” The other man was described as :”5’9”-5’10”, fair skin, thin build, faded blue jeans, dark zip-up hoodie hood pulled over head, grey t-shirt, dark coloured skate shoes, face covered.”
Groups like the Indo-Canadian Harmony Forum called upon the Indo-Canadian community to assist police so the “culprits are punished.” Its chairperson Azad Kaushik said: “It seems that the purpose of the attack was to instil fear in the mind of law-abiding innocent Canadians at the time when provincial elections are to be held on June 7.”