Canada hunts suspects in stabbing spree that killed 10, wounded 15
Updated 16:08, 05-Sep-2022

Canadian police hunted for two suspects in a stabbing spree mostly in a sparsely populated Indigenous community that killed 10 people and wounded at least 15 others early on Sunday.

The stabbings across 13 crime scenes were among the deadliest mass killings in modern Canadian history.

"The attacks in Saskatchewan today are horrific and heartbreaking," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Sunday. "As Canadians, we mourn with everyone affected by this tragic violence and with the people of Saskatchewan. We also wish a full and quick recovery to those injured," the prime minister said in a statement.

The two suspects were seen traveling in a black Nissan Rogue and spotted in the city of Regina, about 320 kilometers south of the attacks in the James Smith Cree Nation and the village of Weldon, police said.

"It appears that some of the victims may have been targeted, and some may be random. So, to speak to a motive would be extremely difficult at this point in time," Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer of the Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told a news conference.

There may be additional injured victims who transported themselves to various hospitals, police said. 

A statement by Indigenous leaders indicated the attacks may have been drug related. Police named the two suspects as Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30. 

In May, Myles Sanderson was listed as "unlawfully at large" by Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers, a program that encourages the public to cooperate with the police. There were no further details about why he was wanted.

The James Smith Cree Nation is an Indigenous community with a population of about 3,400 people, largely engaged in farming, hunting and fishing. Weldon is a village of some 200 people.

Indigenous people account for less than five percent of Canada's population of about 38 million and suffer from higher levels of poverty, unemployment and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians.

The nation's elected elders declared a state of emergency "in response to the numerous murders and assaults on members of the James Smith Cree Nation" and established two emergency operations centers, the nation said in a statement.

Trudeau said his government had been in direct communication with the James Smith Cree Nation leadership, adding, "We are ready to assist in any way we can."

The first stabbings were reported at 5:40 a.m. (1140 GMT). Within three hours, police had issued a province-wide dangerous person alert. By the afternoon, similar alerts were also issued in Saskatchewan's neighboring provinces, Alberta and Manitoba.

A police alert issued shortly after midday said the suspects may be in Regina, one of the province's largest cities, where a large police presence was already mobilized because of a Canadian football game at Mosaic Stadium near the center of town.

However, Blackmore said it was unknown where the suspects might be headed or if they had changed vehicles.

"It is horrific what has occurred in our province today," Blackmore said, calling the attacks one of the largest if not the largest in recent history in the province.

(With input from agencies)

(Cover: Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore speaks next to images of Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson during a press conference in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, September 4, 2022. /CFP)

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