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IS claims deadly Toronto shooting but offers no evidence to back it up

Crime scene after shooting in Toronto's Greektown area [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 July, 2018

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The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a mass shooting in Toronto on Sunday, but no evidence has emerged of any operational links to the gunman.

The Islamic State on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a weekend shooting in Canada's Toronto that killed two people and wounded 13 others.

The group's propaganda agency Aamaq said the attacker was "one of the soldiers of the Islamic State". 

"He carried out the attack in response to calls to target nationals of countries of the coalition" fighting IS in Syria and Iraq since 2014, it said.

However, Canadian investigators said on Tuesday there was no national security risk following the mass shooting.

The Islamic State typically claims responsibility for attacks it inspires regardless of whether an operational link exists. It remains unclear what, if any, affiliation the 29-year-old shooter, Faisal Hussain, may have had with the group.

Hussain was found dead near the scene of the shooting after an exchange of gunfire with police. It's unclear whether it was from his own gun or a bullet from police.

The weekend attack, which took place in Toronto's Greektown neighbourhood at around 10:00 pm Sunday, rocked a city that has long prided itself as being safe.

Hussain's family, in a statement to CBC News, denounced his "horrific actions" and said he was suffering from mental problems.

The said he had battled "severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life".

They said medications and therapy had been unable to treat him.

Video footage posted by Canadian media showed Hussain, clad all in black, walking on a sidewalk and suddenly pulling out a handgun and shooting into a restaurant.

Witnesses said the shooting rampage lasted just a few minutes and sparked panic in the district, popular for its bars and Greek restaurants.

Toronto Mayor John Tory called the shooting "evidence of a gun problem" in the city.

Canada overhauled its gun-control laws after the country's worst mass shooting in 1989, when gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique college.

It is now illegal to possess an unregistered handgun or any kind of rapid-fire weapon in Canada. Gun ownership also requires training, a personal risk assessment, two references, spousal notification and criminal record checks.

During a debate in City Council on Tuesday, Councilman Joe Cressy asked if Toronto could outright ban guns and was informed it would be up to the federal government to change the laws.

Last week's mass shooting comes just three months after a man used a van to plow over pedestrians in the northern part of the city, killing 10 and injuring 14. The attacker, Alek Minassian, had a day earlier pledged allegiance to incel, a misogynist movement that stands for "involuntary celibate".

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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