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Terrorist attack on police officer, pedestrians outside Edmonton football game

Last Updated Oct 1, 2017 at 1:53 pm PDT

Crews clean up the scene where a cube van ran into pedestrians and later flipped over while being pursued by police, in Edmonton Alta, on Sunday October 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON (NEWS 1130) – A police officer and four pedestrians are recovering after a terror attack outside a football game in Edmonton last night.

Chief Rod Knecht said officers have a 30-year-old Edmonton man in custody and they think he acted alone, but they aren’t ruling out that others are involved.

“It is believed at this time that these two incidents are related,” Knecht told an early morning news conference. “It was determined that these incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism.”

The chaos began outside the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers football game at Commonwealth Stadium about 8:15 p.m. Saturday, when police say a white Chevrolet Malibu car rammed a traffic control barricade and sent an officer flying into the air.

Knecht said the driver of the vehicle then got out and “viciously” attacked the officer with a knife before fleeing. The officer was taken to hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries while a manhunt was launched.

Knecht said an Islamic State flag was found in the front seat of the car and seized as evidence.

A few hours later, a U-Haul cube van was stopped at an impaired driving checkstop north of downtown. Knecht said the name of the driver was close to the name of the registered owner of the car that hit the officer. He said the U-Haul then sped off toward downtown with police in pursuit.

Police say the U-Haul intentionally swerved at pedestrians in crosswalks. Four people were injured by the van, however, the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

The van eventually rolled near a downtown hotel and a suspect was arrested. Knecht said the man was known to police.

Knecht said Edmonton police are working with the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, and other Canadian security agencies.

“We currently believe that this individual acted alone,” he said. “The investigation is in its very early stages and we are urging Edmontonians to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.”

Politicians, Canadian Muslims condemn attack

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has released a statement saying he is deeply concerned and outraged by the tragedy.

“Our thoughts are with those injured, their family and friends, and all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” Trudeau says in the statement.

“I am also grateful for the first responders who were there on the scene, and the enforcement authorities who have been working through the night to make sure that everybody in Edmonton and Alberta is safe and secure. Police officers put themselves at great personal risk every single day on our behalf, and this attack is a stark reminder of the sacrifices they make for the public good.

“We cannot and will not let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear. Edmonton is a strong and resilient city, and I am confident that its citizens will support one another to overcome this tragic event.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson held a press conference, a video of which was posted to his Facebook, this morning.

“Though these events are troubling for many of us and it is alarming to hear that it is being investigated as a terrorist incident, I wish to urge calm. To the best of our knowledge this was a lone wolf attack. The assailant was brought into custody and being interviewed by police, even as we speak.”

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has released a statement condemning the “brazen and senseless attacks”.

“We denounce these cowardly acts of wanton violence in Edmonton. There is never any justification for such criminal acts. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

“Canadian Muslims stand united with all Canadians against all forms of hate and violence. We urge local authorities to bring the perpetrator quickly to justice. Such despicable acts must be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” says Gardee.