Trudeau condemns pepper spray attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is condemning an attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver, after police say a man pepper-sprayed a group at a welcoming event.

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Officers say the incident happened outside of the Muslim Association of Canada Centre, just after 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

The centre was holding a "Welcome Night" for refugees that evening, and a crowd of people were gathered outside when an unknown man approached on a bicycle.

The man then pepper-sprayed the group of men, women and children, a police press release says.

Witnesses at the scene said the man sprayed as many as 15 to 30 people.

"I saw people running out of the centre and crying and coughing," a witness named Fatima told CTV Vancouver. "I (could) smell the black pepper. And it did hurt, of course."

Paramedics arrived on scene to treat those hit by the spray. They said nobody was seriously injured.

On Saturday, Trudeau responded to the incident on Twitter.

"I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver," the prime minister wrote. "This isn't who we are – and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered."

I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver. This isn't who we are - and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 9, 2016

Police are now looking for the man on the bicycle, who is believed to have been wearing a white hooded sweatshirt at the time of the event.

Officers say the motive for the pepper-spraying is unknown at this time, and that no arrests have been made so far.

With files from CTV Vancouver



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