Nine-year-old son is sole survivor of ‘premeditated’ truck attack on Muslim family in Canada

Police believe victims were deliberately targeted ‘because of their Islamic faith’

Chiara Giordano,Nathan Place
Tuesday 08 June 2021 16:41
<p>Four members of a Muslim family were killed in a ‘premeditated’ truck attack in Canada, police say</p>

Four members of a Muslim family were killed in a ‘premeditated’ truck attack in Canada, police say

The four Muslim family members killed in a truck attack in Ontario, Canada have now been identified, along with the sole survivor: the family’s nine-year-old son.

The deceased were 46-year-old Salman Afzaal; his 44-year-old wife, Madiha Salman; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumnah Afzaal; and Mr Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, who has not been named.

The Afzaals’ nine-year-old son, Fayez, survived the attack and “is on the road to recovery from serious injuries,” the family said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack a “brutal, cowardly, brazen act of violence.”“This killing was no accident,” he said on Tuesday. “This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities.”

Canadian police said a black truck mounted a kerb and struck five members of the family in the city of London, in Ontario, on Sunday before speeding away from the scene. Police have said the attack was motivated by hate.

Detective Superintendent Paul Waight, of the London police department, told reporters: “There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act motivated by hate.

“We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London, Ontario, has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

The suspect was wearing “body armour-type vest” when he was arrested “without incident” in the car park of a shopping centre, police said.

Police officers look for evidence in London, Ontario, after four members of a Muslim family were killed by a truck

It is not known whether the alleged attacker, who has no previous convictions, is a member of a hate group, they added.

Police are said to be consulting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and prosecutors about potentially filing terrorism charges.

Describing the scene as “chaos”, witness Paige Martin told reporters: “It was just absolutely like something that you never want to see.”

The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

London mayor Ed Holder said it was the worst mass murder his city had ever seen.

He told reporters: “We grieve for the family, three generations of whom are now deceased.

People gather at a makeshift memorial after four members of a Muslim family were struck by a truck and killed in London, Ontario

“This was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said he was “horrified” by the news, writing on Twitter: “Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop.”

Ontario premier Doug Ford added that “justice must be served for the horrific act of hatred that took place.”

Mr Veltman is due back in court on Thursday after being remanded into custody on Monday.

Additional reporting by Reuters