- 10 people have been killed and 15 injured after a vehicle ramming incident in downtown Toronto, Canada on 23 April 2018.
- The attacker was not previously known to the police for any extremist ties; his motives for the attack are not yet clear but it appears to have been conducted in a pre-mediated manner.
- Police arrested the attacker who remains in custody.
Travel Information: 10 people have been killed and 15 others injured after a van mounted the pavement and mowed down pedestrians in downtown Toronto on 23 April 2018, from approximately 1330hrs (1730UTC). The attacker drove for around two kilometres on Yonge Street between Finch Avenue and just after Sheppard Avenue before the van stopped and the driver was arrested.
Police have reported that the incident appears to have been a deliberate attack but have not linked the driver to any international terror group and he was not known to police before the incident; his motive remains unclear. The attacker was arrested 26 minutes after the first emergency call without a shot being fired, despite telling police he was armed and reportedly shouting “kill me” at armed police officers. He is due in court at 1000hrs local time 24 April 2018.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, road closures were in place and line one of the Toronto Subway was closed between Sheppard-Yonge and Finch stations.
Solace Global Comment
The police have indicated that the attack is more likely to be linked to drug and mental health issues than to any religious or political motivation. The attacker reportedly spent time at a special needs school according to former classmates. Despite this, the methodology and immediate effects of the incident remain the same as if it were a terror incident regardless of classification. Considering the extensive press coverage and demonstrable effectiveness of the attack, the likelihood of actual terrorist attacks copying the methodology may increase. An attack along these lines remains easy to carryout due to its low-tech nature, and the relative ease of access to vehicles in most countries. The attack is reminiscent of recent vehicular attacks in Europe and North America, such as in Melbourne, Nice, London, Stockholm, and New York City to name a few, where some of the suspects carried them out in the name of the Islamic State.
Disruption around major transit hubs is likely to persist for the next few days as law enforcement seek to prevent copycat attacks, particularly considering that Toronto is hosting the G7 Foreign Ministers Summit, ending on 24 April. The presence of additional armed officers and security screenings should not necessarily be taken as an indicator that a credible threat has been identified or that an attack is imminent. Enhanced travel restrictions were immediately implemented as the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL Ice Hockey team faced the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre.
The latest updates suggest that the following travel disruption is in place:
- Line one subway services have resumed between Sheppard-Yonge and Finch with North York Centre remaining closed
- Yonge Street is closed from Glendora Avenue to Bishop Avenue
- All east-west roads crossing Yonge Street in this area (except Sheppard Avenue) are blocked off. Some other minor streets may be blocked off.
- Finch Avenue is closed from Beecroft Road to Doris Avenue.
- Ramp from Highway 401 eastbound to Yonge Street northbound is closed.
- 36 Finch West, 97 Yonge, and 320 Yonge Toronto Transit Commission bus routes are all detouring
- All GO bus routes serving Finch GO bus terminal (routes 19, 27, 32, 34, 67, 92, 96) are detouring.
Travellers should be prepared for a tense atmosphere in Toronto and across Canada in the short-term. There is likely to be an increase in the frequency of evacuations and cordons due to suspicious packages and events. All police instruction should be followed immediately to avoid any misunderstanding which could lead to a forceful police response.
Low Travel Risk
If caught in a potential terrorism incident, travellers are advised to RUN – HIDE – TELL – FIGHT. RUN – If in a location where gunfire or explosions are heard, leave the area or building by any safe and available exit immediately. HIDE – If unable to run away, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Remember to silence your phone and turn vibrate off. TELL – Inform emergency services or alert someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements. FIGHT – As a last resort, if confronted with a gunman, it is recommended to fight back by using the element of surprise by shouting, screaming and running fast at the attacker. If sheltered with others, convince them to do the same and rush the attacker all at once. Ensure the person entering the shelter is the attacker and not law enforcement.
Solace Global would not advise clients to employ additional security measures when visiting Canada. However, in all cases, the use of a travel tracking app with the ability to display an intelligence feed will assist employers to implement effective duty of care, and also permit the traveller to remain up to date with pertinent security updates. Travellers are advised to maintain the usual level of situational awareness and employ sensible security precautions for all travel to Canada.