By Matt Murphy & Yaroslav Lukov
Canadian police have launched a huge manhunt for two men suspected of stabbing at least 10 people to death in a rampage that has shocked the nation.
Two suspects named as Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson are on the run and considered armed and dangerous.
Victims were found in 13 locations in the remote indigenous community James Smith Cree Nation and nearby Weldon.
It is of the deadliest acts of mass violence Canada has seen. PM Justin Trudeau said it was “heartbreaking”.
At least 15 others were injured in the killing spree, with police urging residents to be extremely vigilant as they conduct a search operation across one of Canada’s largest and most remote regions.
“I am shocked and devastated by the horrific attacks today,” Mr Trudeau said in a statement. “Those responsible for today’s abhorrent attacks must be fully brought to justice.”
As news of the stabbings broke, a dangerous person alert was sent to all mobile phones across the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta – an enormous region almost half the size of Europe.
A state of emergency was declared in the James Smith Cree Nation – a community of about 2,000 residents north-east of the village of Weldon, which is home to just 200 people.
“Do not leave a secure location. Use caution allowing others into your residence,” Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) warned people across the search area.
Numerous checkpoints have been set up and drivers have been urged not to pick up hitchhikers.
There is still no word on a motive for the crimes.
Rhonda Blackmore, Commanding Officer for Saskatchewan RCMP said that some people may have been targeted, while others are believed to have been “attacked randomly”.
The relationship between Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, is unclear, and the authorities have so far provided no further details.
At a news briefing on Sunday evening, police said there could be more injured people than the 15 they already knew about, who had taken themselves to hospital.
The first emergency call was made to police at 05:40 local time on Sunday morning in the provincial capital Regina, about 280km (173 miles) south of Weldon.
This was quickly followed by many more calls for help, developing into what police described as a “rapidly unfolding event”.
Logan Stein, a local journalist, told the BBC that the region was extremely remote. He said that the attackers appeared to have gone door-to-door attacking locals.
The suspects were last seen by members of the public in Regina at about lunchtime on Sunday, and may be travelling in a black Nissan Rogue, Officer Blackmore said.
“They are considered armed and dangerous… If you see the suspects or their vehicle, do not approach them, immediately leave the area and call 911.”
Weldon resident Diane Shier said her neighbour, a man who lived with his grandson, was killed, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported.
He was described by another resident, Robert Rush, as a gentle, widowed man in his 70s.
“He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Mr Rush was quoted as saying.
Timeline of events
- 05:40 – local time on 4 September (11:40 GMT) – police receive the first call about a stabbing in the James Smith Cree Nation. More calls start coming in within minutes
- 07:12 – police tell the public to seek immediate shelter and issue a Dangerous Persons Alert
- 07:57 – police reveal the names, descriptions and pictures of the two suspects
- 08:20 – the Dangerous Persons Alert is extended to the whole Saskatchewan province
- 11:25 – the search for the suspects is further widened to the neighbouring provinces of Manitoba and Alberta
- 12:07 – police alert the public that the suspect vehicle had been spotted in Regina, the provincial capital