PM saddened over killing of Pakistani-origin family in Ontario

Says act of terrorism reveals growing Islamophobia in West; Qureshi denounces incident

News Desk June 08, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing a live broadcast session on May 11, 2021. SCREENGRAB


Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed grief at and denounced the killing of a Muslim Pakistani-origin Canadian family in London, Ontario.

"This condemnable act of terrorism reveals the growing Islamophobia in Western countries. Islamophonia needs to be countered holistically by the international community," the premier stated in a tweet.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also took to Twitter to condemn the incident, saying three generations of Pakistani-Canadians had been killed for their faith.

'Test case for Canadian government'

In a separate statement, the minister said the incident was a "test case for the Canadian government and society".

He went on to add that the Canadian government must play its due role in restoring the confidence and protection of the Muslims residing in the country.

Qureshi informed that the Pakistani Consul General in Toronto established contact with the relatives of the victim family who lost their lives in the tragic incident.

The relatives, he added, were offered facilitation in terms of transportation of the bodies, however, it was informed that the burial had been planned to take place in Canada.

The minister appealed to Pakistanis residing in Canada to show solidarity to the heirs of those affected.

The incident

A day before, on June 7, the police said a man accused of killing four members of a Canadian Muslim family after running them over in his pickup truck, targeted them in an attack motivated by hate.

"There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate," Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London police department told reporters.

"We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith," Waight said.

He added that the police in London - 200 km (120 miles) southwest of Toronto - were consulting with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and prosecutors about potentially filing terrorism charges.

Read ‘Islamophobia being mainstreamed in Europe’

On June 6, 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, jumped the curb in his vehicle on Sunday, struck five members of the family, ranging in age from 9 to 74, and then drove off at high speed.

Veltman, a resident of London who was arrested after the incident, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is due back in court on Thursday after being remanded to custody on Monday.

Police have not yet released the victims' names, but the London Free Press said that among the dead were Syed Afzaal, 46, his wife, Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter, Yumnah Afzaal.

Syed Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, whose name is not yet confirmed, also died. Their 9-year-old son, Faez Afzaal, is in the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The family immigrated from Pakistan about 14 years ago, according to media reports.

With additional input from APP.