Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Fatal shooting at poll win rally

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois is whisked off stage as she delivers her victory speech in Quebec (AP/Paul Chiasson, The Canadian Press)
Police outside an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the Parti Quebecois victory rally (AP/Paul Chiasson, The Canadian Press)
Parti Quebecois supporters cheer as election results are announced in Montreal (AP)

A masked gunman has shot dead one person and injured another during a victory rally for Quebec's new premier.

Newly-elected Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois was unhurt and whisked off stage by guards while giving her speech.

It was not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Ms Marois, whose party favours separation for the French-speaking province from Canada.

Montreal police identified him only as a 50-year-old and said he opened fire in the back of the hall while Ms Marois was giving her victory speech to hundreds of supporters at the Metropolis auditorium.

"What's going on?" Ms Marois asked her security as they pulled her off the stage during the celebration of her party's victory in the provincial election.

The gunman then fled outside where he started a small fire before he was captured, police said.

Police said they did not know his motive. As he was being dragged towards a police car, he was heard shouting in French, "The English are waking up!" The suspect was wearing a black ski or balaclava mask and a blue bathrobe over black clothes

Ms Marois returned to the stage after the shooting and finished her speech before asking the crowd to disperse. She left the hall amid a tight cordon of police bodyguards.

The separatist party won the election, but failed to win a majority of legislative seats. Although the Parti Quebecois wants the province to break away from Canada, its victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence. Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum after previous ones had been rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995.

It is not the first time there has been political violence in Quebec related to tensions between the French and English. In the 1970s Canadian soldiers were put on street patrol because of a spate of terrorism by a group demanding independence from Canada. In 1970, the shadowy militant FLQ demanded "total independence" from Canada. Its members kidnapped and killed Quebec's labour minister and later abducted, then freed, a British diplomat.

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