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Canadian police: Driver planned attack on Muslim family

Canadian authorities on Monday said the alleged driver behind a truck attack that killed four members of a Muslim family planned the incident beforehand.

Authorities said that Nathaniel Veltman, 20, ran into five members of a Muslim family on Sunday in London, Ontario, after he drove over the curb, Reuters reports. Veltman was arrested after the attack and has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

The four people who died were Syed Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha Salman, 44; the couple’s 15-year-old daughter, Yumnah Afzaal; and Afzaal’s grandmother, who not was named. Syed Afzaal and Salman’s 9-year-old son, Faez Afzaal, is currently hospitalized with serious, but non-life-threatening, injuries.

As The Associated Press reports, members of the victims’ extended family released a statement soon after the attack.

“Everyone who knew Salman and the rest of the Afzal family know the model family they were as Muslims, Canadians and Pakistanis,” the statement read. “They worked extremely hard in their fields and excelled. Their children were top students in their school and connected strongly with spiritual their identity.”

“This young man who committed this act of terror was influenced by a group that he associated with, and the rest of the community must take a strong stand against this, from the highest levels in our government to every member of the community,” they added.

Detective Supt. Paul Waight of the London Police Service said on Monday that police have not determined if Veltman is a part of any hate groups, but stated that the he had planned the attack. Authorities said they were exploring potential terrorism charges against Veltman.

London Mayor Ed Holder has said that the flags in the city would be lowered for three days, the AP reports.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Twitter Tuesday called the attack an “act of terrorism” and an indication of “growing Islamophobia in the West.”

“I am deeply saddened by the murder of a Pakistani-Canadian Muslim family in the London area of Ontario. This reprehensible act of terrorism is a sign of the growing Islamophobia in the West, which needs to be addressed by the international community as a whole,” Khan wrote.

Tags Canada Islamophobia Ontario
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