By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — An explosion caused by an “improvised explosive device” ripped through an Indian restaurant in a mall in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, wounding 15 people, Canadian police said.
Peel Region Sergeant Matt Bertram said two suspects with their faces covered to conceal their identity entered the Bombay Bhel restaurant late Thursday, dropped the device and fled.
“We have no indication to call it a hate crime or any kind of terrorism act,” Bertram said.
Peel Region paramedic Joe Korstanje said three people suffered critical injuries and were taken to the hospital while the remaining 12 victims suffered what he described as minor and superficial injuries. Police later updated the condition of the three critically injured patients to stable.
The explosion happened just after 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, and the plaza where the restaurant is located was still sealed off on Friday. Television footage showed an injured woman limping away from the restaurant.
“Nothing was said by these individuals,” Bertram said. “It appears they just went in, dropped off this device, and took off right away.”
Bertram said they couldn’t say what the device was yet.
“Different callers called in and said it was firecrackers or some said gunshot sort of noises. I don’t think it was an explosion that was rocking anything,” he said. “Until we can get in there and analyze the material after the search warrant we won’t be able to say what it was.”
Rafael Conceicao, a student from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was near the restaurant when the explosion occurred. He said there was a child’s birthday party inside the restaurant at the time.
“Glass was broken in the street … Everything was destroyed. Lots of blood in the floor. Many people were screaming. They were trying to run out from the restaurant,” he said.
Bertram said there were several family gatherings in the restaurant at the time, involving people of “a wide range of ages.”
Andre Larrivee, who lives in a nearby condo, said he was watching television when he heard a loud explosion.
“It was really loud,” he said, comparing the noise to an electric generator that had exploded at a nearby construction site recently.
Police asked for the public’s help and released a photo of the suspects, both with dark hoodies pulled over their heads and their faces covered.
Peel region police, in a tweet, described the first suspect as in his mid-20s, 5-foot-10 to 6-feet with a stocky build, wearing dark blue jeans and a baseball cap with a light gray peak.
The second suspect is described as a little shorter with a thin build, wearing faded blue jeans, a gray T-shirt and dark colored skate shoes.
The Indian consulate in Toronto tweeted it had opened a helpline for those seeking assistance following the explosion. Vikas Swarup, India’s High Commissioner to Canada, tweeted that India’s Consul General in Toronto visited the injured in the hospital. He also said that the three Indian-Canadians who were reported to be critically injured are stable.
The restaurant describes itself online as an authentic, yet casual, Indian dining experience. Police said the plaza would be sealed off all night.
[Feature image: Doug Ives/The Canadian Press via AP]