Caution: Two unidentified males detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Bombay Bhel Indian restaurant, Mississauga, at 2230 local time on 24 May 2018. 15 people were wounded by the blast, with three reported to be in critical condition. The two suspected attackers fled the scene following the explosion.
Law enforcement has not identified a motive for the attack, and it is not yet being treated as a terror investigation at this time. Both suspects remain at large, and a search operation is ongoing. Whilst both men wore masks during the attack, witnesses reported them both as being fair skinned, with one between 5’10” and 6’ tall, the other slightly shorter.
Official sources have yet to comment on the suspected motives for the attack, however, a number of plausible outcomes are apparent based upon the information presently known. Firstly, the attack was not a suicide attack, although the suspects were on-scene at the time of detonation, neither were reported injured, and they managed to flee the scene. This suggests that neither attacker was actively seeking martyrdom in any religious or ideological manner. It is also suggestive that they may seek to conduct further attacks.
There is a realistic probability that the attack was either a hate-crime or a racially-motivated terror attack. In either case, two white males targeting an Indian restaurant would appear to be an almost stereotypical format for such an attack. This should be considered against Mississauga’s demographics, with immigrants accounting for roughly 50 per cent of the population; and the small, but rising, trend of hate-related criminality in the city. Local police recorded that racially-motivated offences doubled between 2016 and 2017, with 22 per cent being violent in nature. This upswing has been driven primarily by an increase in white, right-wing hate groups, principally targeting the city’s Jewish and Muslim communities.
Alternatively, the attack may be related to organised crime. Mississauga has reported a series of gang-related incidents in recent years, with police having detained individuals armed with automatic rifles, or other unlicensed weapons as recently as 17 May. These instances are often tied to the narcotics trade. Whilst the use of explosives by criminal elements in the city appears to be a new development, instructions for creating explosives are freely available online. If this were the case, it remains unclear whether the restaurant or a specific patron was the intended target.
This is the second potential terror attack to have occurred in Canada during the past two months, following a vehicle ramming attack which killed 10 in Toronto. At present, there is no evidence suggesting the two incidents are related, or that the attackers exploited similar vulnerabilities to conduct their attacks.
Travellers should be aware there is likely to be an increased security presence across Canada after the recent attack. Police are likely to take more proactive measures in order to protect themselves and densely crowded areas which may be vulnerable further attacks.
If caught in the vicinity of an explosion, travellers should take cover in case of secondary blasts or follow up attack. It is important to stay away from glass or electronic fixtures. If possible, travellers should move away from danger areas as soon as possible. It is advisable to avoid crowds and to not return for any lost belongings. Travellers should avoid gathering in a group immediately following a blast as secondary blasts are likely to target obvious assembly points.
Travellers to Canada are advised that enhanced security measures are not necessary. However, travellers may wish to consider employing travel tracking technology alongside an intelligence platform. This will enable them to quickly notify others of an emergency and be kept updated of any security related incidents such as the events in Mississauga.