By Julie Gordon
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Canadian police killed a man on Wednesday, national television news channels reported, after the police said they had identified a suspect after receiving “credible information of a potential terrorist threat”.
The suspect was killed during a police raid in a small Ontario town, CTV News and CBC News reported.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement they had identified a suspect in a national security threat and taken action to ensure the safety of the public. No further details were provided.
Intelligence sources told Reuters that the suspect was Aaron Driver, who was arrested last year for openly supporting the Islamic State militant group on social media. The sources declined to be identified because they did not have permission to speak to the media.
The sources said Driver, who also uses the alias Harun Abdurahman, lives in Strathroy, Ontario, a small community some 225 km (140 miles) southwest of Toronto.
Driver’s death was not yet officially confirmed and his lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
Reports on Twitter late on Wednesday said police had raided a home in Strathroy in relation to the RCMP threat incident. Reporters on the scene later tweeted that the coroner had arrived and a body bag had been loaded into an official vehicle.
The London Free Press newspaper, citing family members, reported that Driver was shot by police after he detonated a device, wounding himself and another person. There was no immediate confirmation of that report.
Driver had not been charged with a crime but in February he was placed on a peace bond, a court order that restricted his movements, required that he stay away from social media and computers and not have contact with Islamic State or similar groups.
He said in February he did not think Canadians should fear him and that people should not be persecuted for their political beliefs, according to CBC news.
Irene Lee, whose parents own a convenience store near Driver’s home, said police arrived on the quiet residential street shortly after 4 pm ET (2000 GMT) and quickly surrounded the house.
“I hear a bomb sound, like a ‘bang’ – I was freaking out because this is a small and quiet town,” she told Reuters. “All of a sudden the policemen were yelling, ‘everyone get into your houses’.”
Lee said police were still outside and had told her they would likely be there all night.
Canada’s public safety minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement released late on Wednesday the public had been “properly protected” following a national security threat, and that he had briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
He said Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level remained unchanged at “medium”.
A spokeswoman at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada’s spy agency, declined to comment on the incident, referring all queries to the RCMP.
The RCMP said in its statement the investigation was still underway and it would not provide further comment. Media relations officers did not immediately return phone calls and emails.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Leslie Adler and Paul Tait)