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Saskatchewan stabbings: Suspects still at large, police say

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By Jessica Murphy in Regina, Saskatchewan, and Merlyn Thomas in London

BBC News

A police officer at press briefing with pictures of murder suspects beside herImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

A huge manhunt for the two murder suspects is underway

Two murder suspects are still at large after ten people were stabbed to death in one of the worst acts of violence in Canada’s recent history.

Myles Sanderson, 30, and Damien Sanderson, 31, have been charged with murder, despite not being arrested.

The attacks – which left another 18 people injured – happened in a remote region of Saskatchewan on Sunday.

In the city of Regina, where the suspects were last seen, families are in mourning and communities on edge.

There are no obvious signs of a manhunt here – except for the sound of emergency alerts ringing on mobile phones warning of “two adult male suspects” who “continue to be at large”.

The city is quiet, with many shops shuttered for the Labour Day long weekend.

In Victoria Park in the city centre, families called the attacks “horrific” and “sad”. “It’s on everyone’s mind,” Deena Arthur told the BBC.

“They’re not monsters, they’re people. Something has happened to them to make this happen.”

Another woman said the stabbings have left her “stomach in knots”. She wonders how something like this could happen in Canada.

The killings have rocked the typically peacefully prairie province of Saskatchewan, with police investigating 13 separate crime scenes.

Many of the victims were residents of the remote James Smith Cree Nation – leaving members of Canada’s indigenous community especially shaken.

A state of emergency was declared in the community of about 2,000 residents north-east of the village of Weldon, which is home to just 200 people.

As news of the stabbings broke, a dangerous person alert was sent to all mobile phones across the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta – an enormous region almost half the size of Europe.

Numerous checkpoints have been set up and drivers have been urged not to pick up hitchhikers. Officers from the three provinces are involved in the search.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the spate of killings “horrific and heartbreaking”.

Image source, RCMP Saskatchewan

Image caption,

The suspects have been identified as Damien Sanderson (left) and Myles Sanderson

No official details of the victims have been given, but Canadian media have identified some.

“Mostly we’re all related here, so it’s pretty hard,” Chakastaypasin Chief Calvin Sanderson – one of the elected leaders in the region – told the Regina Leader Post.

The leader of Saskatchewan’s opposition party, the New Democratic Party’s Carla Beck, told the BBC the incident had “shaken” the residents of a “tight-knit community”.

Saskatchewan’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they had been searching for Myles Sanderson for more than three months.

In May 2022 the 30-year-old stopped meeting with his parole officer and since then has been classified as “unlawfully at large”.

Police have not indicated a motive – but said they believe some victims were targeted, while others were random.

Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations suggested the attacks could be drug-related.

Timeline of events

05:40 – local time on 4 September (11:40 GMT) – police receive the first call about a stabbing in the James Smith Cree Nation. More calls start coming in within minutes

07:12 – police tell the public to seek immediate shelter and issue a Dangerous Persons Alert

07:57 – police reveal the names, descriptions and pictures of the two suspects

08:20 – the Dangerous Persons Alert is extended to the whole Saskatchewan province

11:25 – the search for the suspects is further widened to the neighbouring provinces of Manitoba and Alberta

12:07 – police alert the public that the suspects’ vehicle had been spotted in Regina, the provincial capital

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