By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, April 24 (IANS) Ten persons have been killed and 15 injured after a man ploughed a rental van through pedestrians on a city sidewalk here. The driver was arrested after a tense standoff with police.
The incident occurred around 1.30 p.m. on Monday when the van driver mounted the sidewalk of city's famous Yonge Street and ploughed over people enjoying the first sunny day of spring.
He sped over a two-kilometre stretch till his van hit a bus shelter. The entire stretch presented a ghastly scene as bodies, debris and items of clothing lay scattered on it.
The van driver has been identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian from the city outskirts' Richmond Hill. Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders though said he was not ruling out anything at the stage. He said the killer was not known to the city police.
"There's nothing on our files. There's nothing that we have on him right now. It (the accident) looks intentional and as a result 10 people are now not with us," said Saunders. Police said that the incident appeared deliberate but no motive was clear.
During the chase, when a lone police officer pointing a gun at the driver asked him to surrender, the suspect told him that he had a gun.
As the police officer shouted: "Get down, get down or you will be shot," the suspect said: "Kill me." However, he soon surrendered. He was due in court.
This is the worst incident of mass killing in the city's history. In a press conference later, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale ruled out any terror links. The incident does "not appear to be connected to any national security concerns", he said.
Canadian broadcaster CBC cited government officials as saying Minassian was not associated with any known terror groups.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident a "senseless attack and a horrific tragedy". Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Trudeau praised the police officers involved, who he said "faced danger without a moment of hesitation".
Minassian had previously attended a school for students with special needs in north Toronto, former classmates said.
Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party, the Leader of Opposition, said: "Tragic news coming out of Toronto - my thoughts are with all those affected by the horrific events..."
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker mourned the victims, saying: "I send my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, as well as to Prime Minister Trudeau and to all Canadians."
The incident took place about 29 km from the city centre, where Foreign Ministers from the G7 countries were meeting to discuss world issues.
After Europe and the US, this is the first such incident in Canada.
Canada survived a major terror attack in 2006 when 18 people linked to Al Qaeda were arrested for plotting to kill the Prime Minister, blow up parliament and take MPs hostage.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bhubaneswar, April 24 (IANS) Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday requested Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu to set up an airport in Odisha's industrial town Paradip.
In a letter, Pradhan sought the personal attention of Prabhu to examine the techno-economic feasibility for setting an airport at Paradip as soon as possible.
"The grand vision of development of Paradip would remain incomplete without an airport providing air connectivity, as the nearest Biju Patnaik International Airport at Bhubaneswar is 135 kms away and takes more than three hours by road," he said , adding that the Paradip Port Trust has already requested the Airport Authority of India to set up an airport there.
Paradip is one of the major ports in eastern India and last year became one of the three ports in India to have handled a total cargo of over 100 million tons.
The port is being further expanded and modernized and it is expected that by 2020 it would be able to handle 332 million tons of cargo per annum thereby making it the largest port in India, said Pradhan.
He said the Union government has declared Paradip Port as a Smart Port Industrial City, which is fast emerging as a major industrial hub in Odisha and Eastern India.
Besides having the port, Paradip already has an oil refinery of 15 MMTPA capacity, a 12 MMTPA pellet plant, two fertilizer plants together of 4 MMTPA capacity and a edible oil refinery, he said.
In addition, Pradhan said that his Ministry is implementing several big ticket industrial projects, including expansion of refinery to 21 MMTPA from 15 MMTPA, a 700 TMT Poly Propylene plant by 2018 and a 355 TMT Mono Ethyl Glycol unit by 2023-24 which will feed various downstream industries including plastics, paints, rubber and synthetic yarn industries, and all these initiatives "require seamless connectivity".