REGINA, Saskatchewan: Canadian police on Monday searched across the expansive south-central province of Saskatchewan for two suspects believed to have stabbed to death 10 people in an Indigenous community and a nearby town in one of the deadliest mass killings in the North American country's history.
The suspects also injured 15 people in the series of knife attacks that led the James Smith Cree Nation to declare a state of emergency and badly shook residents of the nearby village of Weldon.
"No one in this town is ever going to sleep again. They're going to be terrified to open their door,″ said Weldon resident Ruby Works, who was close to one of the victims.
Police, meanwhile, said a vehicle reportedly carrying the two suspects had been spotted in Regina, about 335 kilometers (208 miles) south of the communities where the stabbings occurred.
Regina police chief Evan Bray said on Sunday night they still believed the suspects were in the provincial capital Regina.
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"If in the Regina area, take precautions and consider sheltering in place. Do not leave a secure location. DO NOT APPROACH suspicious persons. Do not pick up hitchhikers. Report suspicious persons, emergencies, or info to 9-1-1. Do not disclose police locations," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Twitter.
The suspects were identified as Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30.
"It is horrific what has occurred in our province today," said Rhonda Blackmore, assistant commissioner of the RCMP in Saskatchewan, adding there were 13 crime scenes where either deceased or injured people were found.
Some of the victims appear to have been targeted by the suspects, but others appear to have been attacked at random, she said.
Blackmore couldn't provide a motive, but the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) gave a statement suggesting the stabbings could be drug-related.
The elected leaders of the three communities that make up the James Smith Cree Nation, including the Chakastaypasin and Peter Chapman bands, declared a local state of emergency and opened up two emergency operations centers.
Chakastaypasin Chief Calvin Sanderson, who is not related to the suspects, said everyone had been affected by the tragic events.
"They were our relatives, friends,″ Sanderson said of the victims. "It's pretty horrific."
"This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities, and we demand all authorities to take direction from the chiefs and councils and their membership to create safer and healthier communities for our people," FSIN chief Bobby Cameron said.
Among the 10 killed was Lana Head, former partner of Michael Brett Burns and mother of their two daughters.
Burns told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network that "it's sick how jail time, drugs and alcohol can destroy many lives."
"I'm hurt for all this loss," he said.
In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "shocked and devastated by the horrific attacks."
"As Canadians, we mourn with everyone affected by this tragic violence, and with the people of Saskatchewan," he added.
Sunday's stabbing spree is among the deadliest mass killings in Canadian history.
The deadliest gun rampage in Canadian history happened in 2020, when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires across the province of Nova Scotia, killing 22 people.
A man used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto in 2019. But mass killings are less common in Canada than in the United States.
Deadly mass stabbings are rare than mass shootings but have happened around the world.
In 2014, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train station in China's southwestern city of Kunming.
In 2016, a mass stabbing at a facility for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, Japan, left 19 people dead.
A year later, three men killed eight people in a vehicle and stabbing attack on London Bridge.