CF members asked to stay out of uniform after Ottawa shootings
Amy Husser, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, October 22, 2014 3:26PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 22, 2014 5:31PM EDT
Canadian Forces members have been asked to consider staying out of uniform unless on active duty, as Parliament Hill and downtown Ottawa remains an active investigation following a deadly shooting.
The request comes after Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo was killed and three other people were injured in the shooting, after gunfire broke out at two separate locations on Wednesday morning.
Officials confirmed shots were fired at the National War Memorial just before 10 a.m. and inside Parliament Hill a short time later. The suspected gunman, identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, has been killed, but police are not saying if other suspects are on the loose.
“We are very aware of the large presence of military personnel in our community, and I want them to know that we are committed to their safety,” Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Police are advising people to avoid the area, and those in downtown Ottawa to stay inside and away from windows or off rooftops.
Wednesday’s shootings mark the second attack on military personnel in Canada this week.
On Monday, a car struck two members of the Canadian Forces in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., in what officials called a targeted attack. One of the soldiers later died in hospital, while the second suffered minor injuries. One of the soldiers was in uniform.
The suspect, Martin Couture-Rouleau, fled the scene before he was shot and killed by police. The RCMP said they had been actively monitoring the 25-year-old, and he had recently become radicalized.
Rouleau was arrested by the Mounties in July when he tried to travel to Turkey. His passport was seized, but police later released him as there was not enough evidence to prove he was planning to fight along extremists in the Middle East.
Earlier this month, Canada’s top commander, Gen. Tom Lawson, warned members of the military to be vigilant.
“We all have to be alert to things that might be out of the normal,” Lawson said in a statement released Oct. 10. “If something doesn’t feel right, take the initiative to let the authorities know.
“We review our force protection posture on a continuous basis, and if additional measures need to be implemented, direction will be provided by Commander (Canadian Joint Operations Command).”
Lawson has also indirectly warned about the possible threat of terrorist retaliation, as Canada joins the war against the Islamic State group in the Middle East.
“While ISIL represents a tremendous threat to people on the ground in Iraq and in Syria, they have also made it clear they would aspire to present a threat to the people of the nations that are providing forces for the efforts against them,” Lawson said.
“We watch that very closely, as do the security agencies here in Canada. There is no indication of direct threats, yet.”
In September, ISIS released a 42-minute propaganda recording, urging attacks on anyone whose country is taking place in the campaign against the terror group -- regardless if they’re civilians or military.
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European -- especially the spiteful and filthy French -- or an Australian or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State … kill him in any manner or way, however it may be,” a translation of the recording says.
Canada agreed to join the U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq in early October, passing a motion to send a number of aircraft and 600 personnel for a period of up to six months. Six CF-18s left a military base in Cold Lake, Alta., yesterday.
The fighter jets were heading to Kuwait, which will serve as Canada’s base of operations during the mission.
The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces employs 68,000 full-time members across Canada, along with 27,000 reservists and 24,000 civilian employees. Together, DND and CAF are the largest federal government department.
With files from The Canadian Press