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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

ISIS claims deadly Toronto attack

Faisal Hussain fired a handgun into crowds in Toronto's popular Greektown area on Sunday night

A man reacts at a vigil in remembrance of the victims of a shooting the evening before, in Toronto, Monday, July 23, 2018. AP
A man reacts at a vigil in remembrance of the victims of a shooting the evening before, in Toronto, Monday, July 23, 2018. AP

ISIS on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a weekend shooting that killed two people in Toronto, Canada.

The group's propaganda agency Amaq said the attacker was "one of the soldiers of the Islamic State".

"He carried out the attack in response to calls to target nationals of countries of the coalition," it said. Coalition forces have been combating ISIS in Syria and Iraq since 2014.

Faisal Hussain fired a handgun into crowds in Toronto's popular Greektown neighbourhood on Sunday night, killing two females and wounding 13 people.

The group did not provide detail or evidence for its claim.

Canadian investigators said there was no national security risk after the mass shooting in Toronto.

They are continuing to investigate the life of the 29-year-old gunman for clues to what prompted the deadly rampage.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Tuesday said: "At this stage, based on the state of the investigation, which is led by the Toronto police service, there is no connection between that individual and national security."

The assailant died after an exchange of gunfire with police. His family has said he suffered from lifelong "severe mental health challenges", but they never imagined he would do such a thing. It was not immediately clear whether he took his own life or was killed by police during the attack.

It was not known where Hussain got his handgun.

The mass shooting in Toronto's Greektown neighborhood stunned people in a normally safe city, already unsettled by an attack just three months ago when a man used a van to plow over pedestrians on a downtown sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 14 in an attack apparently aimed at women.

Canada overhauled its gun-control laws after the country's worst mass shooting in 1989, when Marc Lepine shot dead 14 women and himself at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique college.

It is now illegal to possess an unregistered handgun or any kind of rapid-fire weapon. Canada also requires training, a personal risk assessment, two references, spousal notification and criminal record checks as part of the gun registration process.

Though mass shootings are rare in Canada's largest city, Toronto police had deployed dozens of additional officers over the weekend to deal with a recent rise in gun violence. The city has seen 23 gun homicides so far this year, compared to 16 fatal shootings in the first half of 2017.

Police Chief Mark Saunders said he would not speculate on the motive for Sunday's attack. "We do not know why this has happened yet," he said. "It's going to take some time."

Those killed were 10-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ontario, and 18-year-old Reese Fallon, a recent high school graduate who volunteered for Canada's Liberal Party and was to attend McMaster University in the fall. Officials have not released the names of any of the 13 wounded. The wounded ranged in age from 17 to 59.