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EPS and RCMP investigating Edmonton terrorism attack

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UPDATE: The federal government has corrected the EPS/RCMP, and says the suspect is a refugee, not a refugee claimant.

Edmonton Police have provided more details as their investigation in to a suspected terror incident Saturday is continuing.

Chief Rod Knecht says EPS policy would normally have not allowed the pursuit to continue based on the risk to public safety. However, a senior supervisor gave the approval for the chase to continue based on the severity of the suspect’s crimes.

EPS have identified the officer involved in the attack as Constable Mike Chernyk, who has already been released from hospital. Chief Knecht called his injuries “substantial”. They included stab wounds to his face and head as well as abrasions on his arms from being hit by the vehicle.

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“The truck drove left of centre on several occasions, nearly t-boned at least one vehicle and attempted to run over civilians who were crossing at crosswalks and alleys at Jasper Avenue. Unfortunately, four individuals were actually struck. We have only limited information on the condition of these victims. Their injuries range from broken limbs to brain bleeds. One who was in critical condition last night has been upgraded to stable condition and two have been released from hospital.”

The pursuit continued down Jasper Avenue and into the downtown core when a “deliberate tactical maneuver” was authorized and executed which flipped the vehicle onto its side. Officers broke out the window and used a “loud bang stun grenade” to distract him. After the suspect resisted officers used a taser to take him in to custody.

Multiple charges are pending against the suspect, including participation in a terrorist act, commission of an offence for a terrorist group, five counts of attempted murder, dangerous driving, criminal flight causing bodily harm and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

While law enforcement officials have held off on releasing the suspect’s name, Global News has identified him as Abdulahi Sharif.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand has revealed that Sharif was a Somalian national in Canada as part of the refugee claimant process. Degrand also confirms that in 2015, the suspect and others were the focus of an investigation by the RCMP and EPS.

A complaint was filed that claimed the suspect was “espousing extremist ideology”. That investigation revealed insufficient evidence to lay terrorism charges or pursue a peace bond and the suspect was not deemed to pose a threat to national security at that time.

Both Knecht and Degrande stress they believe this was a lone wolf attack but also say the investigation is in its early stages. They encourage anyone with information or concerns to report to the appropriate authorities.

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