At least 10 people were killed and more than a dozen others were injured in a stabbing rampage in two remote Canadian communities Sunday, police said, as they launched a manhunt for two suspects.
Police responding to emergency calls found 10 dead in the Indigenous community of James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby town of Weldon, Saskatchewan, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore told a news conference.
“Several additional victims have been injured, 15 of which at this point have been transported to various hospitals,” she said.
Yet more victims may have made their way to hospitals on their own, she added.
“We are actively looking for the two suspects,” she said.
They have been identified as Damien and Myles Sanderson and described as 30- and 31-year-old males, both with black hair and brown eyes.
The suspects fled in a black Nissan Rogue, Blackmore added, and several checkpoints have been set up on highways and roads across the region, as “maximum” police resources were deployed for the search.
The James Smith Cree Nation, with a population of 2,500, declared a local state of emergency because of the stabbing rampage, while many residents of Saskatchewan province were urged to shelter in place.
“It is horrific what has happened in our province today,” Blackmore said.
Weldon resident Diane Shier told local media her neighbor, a man who lived with his grandson, was killed. “I am very upset because I lost a good neighbor,” she told the Canadian Press.
A dangerous person alert had been issued in the morning in Saskatchewan, as police responded to “multiple stabbings (in) multiple locations” in the Indigenous community and the town of Weldon.
Blackmore said police received a call at 5:40 am (11:40 GMT) about a stabbing at the James Smith First Nation, followed quickly by more calls reporting further stabbings.
She said authorities believe “some of the victims were targeted by the suspects and others were attacked randomly.”
“To speak to a motive would be extremely difficult at this point in time,” she added.
After reported sightings of the suspects in Regina, the provincial capital more than 300 kilometers (185 miles) to the south, the alert and search expanded to include neighboring Manitoba and Alberta provinces — a vast region almost half the size of Europe.
In Regina, police chief Evan Bray said authorities were on high alert with additional officers deployed as fans descended on the city for a sold-out Labour Day weekend game between the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority told AFP in a statement it had activated emergency protocols to deal with “a high number of critical patients.”
“We can confirm that multiple people are being triaged and cared for at multiple sites and that a call for additional staff to help respond to this situation has occurred,” it added.
Three helicopters had been dispatched from Saskatoon and Regina to the remote northern communities to transport stabbing victims and bring a doctor to the scene.
Other victims were transported by ground ambulances to hospitals in nearby cities.