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A van with a damaged front-end is shown on a sidewalk after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a number of pedestrians. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

9 people dead after van driven into crowd of pedestrians in Toronto

The vehicle fled the scene, but the driver was later arrested.

Updated 9.50pm 

NINE PEOPLE HAVE been killed and 16 others injured after a white rental van drove into a crowd of pedestrians in the centre of Canada’s biggest city Toronto.

Police confirmed the deaths in a press conference this evening.

The deputy chief of police confirmed the deaths and the injuries and expressed condolences with the families of the people who were killed in the incident.

This is going to be a complex investigation,” deputy police chief Peter Yuen told reporters. “We have one person in custody and the investigation is ongoing.”

“We can confirm for you tonight right now we have nine people that are dead, 16 injured,” Yuen said.

He said that hotlines would be set up for family members to contact.

The vehicle fled the scene following the incident, but the driver was later arrested.

Unconfirmed videos appear to show the alleged attacker holding some sort of weapon when he is confronted by police, but these have not bee confirmed by law enforcement.

Toronto mayor John Tory also expressed his condolences with the families and loved ones of those who had died.

“I want to assure people that the city is in safe hands at the moment,” he said, informing people that a widespread investigation into the incident is underway.

Businesses in the area have been asked to close for the evening and people have been told to avoid the area.

Officers were called to the scene – on Yonge Street at the corner with Finch Avenue – at 1:27pm (6.27pm Irish time), police said, without specifying whether or not the incident was deliberate.

A white rental van with a dented front bumper was stopped on the sidewalk of a major intersection, surrounded by police vehicles.

“Our hearts go to anyone affected,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons.

“We are going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours,” he said.

‘Really fast’ 

The incident occurred as Toronto was hosting a meeting of public security ministers from the G7 leading industrialised nations, and on the heels of a weekend gathering in the city for the foreign ministers from the same seven countries – the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

Vehicle attacks have been carried out to deadly effect by extremists in a number of capitals and major cities, including London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, New York, Nice and Barcelona.

Toronto’s police have not stated what they believe the driver’s motives may have been in the incident.

“He was going really fast,” one witness, Alex Shaker, told CTV television.

“All I could see was just people one by one getting knocked out, knocked out, one by one,” Shaker said.

There are so many people lying down on the streets.

© AFP 2018 

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