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Sri Lankan Family Dead In Canada 'Mass Killing'

Sri Lankan Family Dead In Canada 'Mass Killing'
Sri Lankan family dead: Google (source)

Six people from Sri Lanka, including a mother and four young children, were stabbed to death in the Canadian capital Ottawa late on Wednesday, police said on Thursday, shocking a country where mass murders are rare.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was horrified by what he called a "terrible tragedy" and expressed his condolences to the surviving father, who was injured in the attack and taken to hospital.

The victims were identified as 35-year-old Darshani Dilanthika Ekanayake and her four children: Kelly, who was two months old; Rinyana, 2; Ashwini, 4; and Inuka, 7. The sixth deceased victim was 40-year-old Gamini Amarakoon, an acquaintance who was living with the family.

The suspect, 19-year-old Febrio De-Zoysa, was also a Sri Lankan student who lived with the family. He was arrested at the scene and charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Police said the victims were killed and injured using an "edged weapon", but did not specify what kind of weapon it was. They said the motive for the killings was still under investigation.

"This was a senseless act of violence perpetrated on purely innocent people," said Ottawa's police chief Eric Stubbs at a news conference on Thursday. He said the incident was the biggest murder case in Ottawa's recent history, calling it a "real tragedy" that would have a "significant" impact on the nation's capital city.

He said the family were newcomers to Canada from Sri Lanka, and the youngest child was less than three months old. He said the father was in serious but stable condition and was being supported by police and victim services.

Ottawa's mayor Mark Sutcliffe said the multiple homicide event was "one of the most shocking incidents of violence in our city's history".

"We are proud to live in a safe community but this news is distressing to all Ottawa residents," he wrote in a post on X, previously known as Twitter. "Thank you to our emergency responders who are investigating and supporting those who are affected by this terrible event," he added.

Residents of the south Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven, where the killings took place, said they were stunned and saddened by the news. They held a candlelight vigil on Thursday night at a nearby park, where they laid flowers and stuffed animals at a makeshift memorial.

Bhante Suneetha, a resident monk and director of the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist Monastery, said he knew the family from their visits to his temple. He described them as sweet and kind.

"They are innocent and also very helpful people," he said. "In my life, I haven't heard of such a tragic moment in our community."

He said he was planning to hold a special prayer service for the victims on Friday, and hoped that the father would recover soon.

Canada has strict gun laws and mass killings are relatively rare. The last major incident was in April 2020, when a gunman killed 22 people in Nova Scotia, the worst mass shooting in the country's history.