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Grisly details emerge as Canada mourns mosque rampage victims

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/02/2017 John Bacon

Thousands are expected to mourn Thursday at funeral services for three victims of Sunday's shooting rampage at a Quebec City mosque as details of the carnage continue to emerge.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre are among Canadian leaders planning to attend the service at Maurice Richard Arena in Montreal, 160 miles from Quebec City. There are no licensed Islamic funeral parlors in Quebec City, home to about 10,000 Muslims.

"It's not just the Muslim community, it's not just the people of Quebec. Everyone is suffering from this," Coderre said.

After the services, the bodies of Khaled Belkacemi, 60, and Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, both from Algeria, will be returned there for burial. The body of Aboubaker Thabti, 44, will be returned to his native Tunisia.

Prayers also will be offered for the three other victims — Azzeddine Soufiane, 57, Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

GoFundMe campaign for the families raised more than $300,000 from more than 5,000 donors by Thursday.

The funerals come a day after the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec reopened for prayers. Worshipers knelt on carpets still stained in blood from the carnage.

“It’s hard for all of us to come back here and pray,” Ahmed Elrefai told the Toronto Star. "But people are urging us to open as soon as possible. So we prayed, even with the blood on the floor.”

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, a French-Canadian who expressed anti-immigrant views on social media, was arrested near the mosque shortly after the attack. He is charged with six counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. 

Several people were wounded in the attack, including Said Akjour, who told Canada's CBC-TV that he ran for cover in an alcove when the shooting started. He said the gunman saw him run and fired in his direction. Akjour was hit in the left shoulder.

He said he watched Azzeddine Soufiane, a halal grocery owner, charge the shooter.

"It was like he decided it had to stop," Akjour said. "He saw the scope of what was happening and said 'I have to do something.'"

Soufiane was fatally shot before reaching the gunman. Moments later, the shooting stopped. Mohamed Labidi, vice president of the mosque, called Soufiane a hero. 

"Without this intervention, we would have more, more deaths," Labidi told the Star. "He showed his generosity to the last second of his life."

Akjour said the gunman disappeared as quickly and quietly as when he arrived.

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"He didn't shout, he didn't speak," Akjour told CBC. "He shot and then he left."


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