Six people have been killed and eight injured in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau termed as a "terrorist attack" at a mosque in Quebec City.
At least two suspects are in custody hours after the attack on the mosque, the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec. At the time of the attack, the men were praying on the ground floor of the building, while women and children were upstairs.
A witness told CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada that two masked individuals entered the mosque.
"It seemed to me that they had a Quebecois accent. They started to fire, and as they shot they yelled, 'Allahu akbar!' The bullets hit people that were praying. People who were praying lost their lives. A bullet passed right over my head," the witness said, adding, "There were even kids. There was even a three-year-old who was with his father."
Christine Coulombe, the Quebec Provincial Police spokeswoman, said 39 people had escaped the attack in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood without injuries.
The mosque's president, Mohamed Yangui, was not inside the mosque at the time of the shooting.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Yangui said: "One of the administrators called me and said there was a shooting at the mosque. I am still in shock. I ran to the mosque ... I was told that one attacker was arrested at the scene while another one was arrested nearby. Why is this happening here? This is barbaric."
"The neighbourhood is very peaceful. We have a good relationship with the government, the mayor of Quebec. We have no problem whatsoever," he added.
The mosque was previously targeted in an Islamophobic attack, however. In June 2016 during Ramadan, a pig's head was left on the mosque's doorstep along with a note that said "bon appetit". Pork is forbidden in Islam.
The attack has shook Canada, a country where mass shootings are uncommon, and came as the country has become known as a beacon for refugees fleeing warfare and terrorism in Muslim-majority nations.
Offering his condolences, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the shooting a "terrorist attack on Muslims."
"While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear," Trudeau said.
He added, "Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country."
Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume, in a statement, said: "Quebec is in shock tonight following the drama that occurred at the Center culturel Islamique de Quebec. My first thoughts go to the victims and their affected families as they gathered for prayer. Quebec City is an open city where everyone must be able to live together in safety and respect. I invite all the people to unite and to be in solidarity. Quebec is strong, Quebec is proud, Quebec is open to the world."