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April 23, 2018 3:34 pm

Nine Killed in Toronto Van-Ramming Incident

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

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A police officer stands next to a victim of an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto, Canada, April 23, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri.

A white Ryder rental van killed nine people and injured 16 when its driver plowed through a busy Toronto sidewalk on a sunny Monday afternoon, police said.

Toronto Deputy Chief Peter Yuen provided the casualty toll at a news conference.

The incident occurred just before 1:30 p.m. (1730 GMT) as large crowds of office workers were on lunch breaks. At least one witness described the driver as appearing to deliberately target victims on his roughly mile-long (1.6 kilometer-long) rampage. The driver was in custody, police said.

A Reuters witness said there were at least two bodies at the site of the incident. At least seven people were brought to nearby Sunnybrook Health Services Centre’s trauma center, the hospital said on Twitter.

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It was not immediately clear if the incident was a deliberate act by the driver or a traffic mishap in a mixed commercial and residential area.

There have been a string of deadly vehicle attacks in the United States and Europe, including an Oct. 31 attack in New York that killed eight. Toronto is hosting a Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting about 30 kilometers (18 miles) away.

The crash occurred at the corner of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue in the north end of the city, where a van drove onto the sidewalk and hit several people, said Toronto Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray.

A man who gave his name as Ali told CNN he saw the van and that the driver appeared to have been targeting people.

“This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody,” the man said. “He kept going, he kept going. People were getting hit, one after another.”

He said a number of the victims were older people and at one point he saw a stroller fly into the air.

At least one person was struck outside on the sidewalk outside an Anglican church, north of where the van came to rest in front of a currency exchange in a condominium tower.

Buildings and workplaces in the area where the van struck pedestrians in Toronto were locked down, and a nearby subway station was closed and service suspended.

Yonge Street is large, divided boulevard at the point where the incident occurred, its center meridian dotted with planter boxes and sculptures.

There was no noticeable change in security around the Intercontinental Hotel where the ministers of Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan were meeting on Monday.

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