Canada honors war dead weeks after soldiers die in domestic attacks

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2014 11:39 AM

By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Thousands gathered for Remembrance Day ceremonies at Canada's war memorial on Tuesday, the same site where a soldier was shot dead three weeks ago in an attack on parliament.

The annual Nov. 11 Remembrance Day honoring Canada's war dead has taken on increased significance this year after two soldiers were killed in separate attacks in October that police said were carried out by radical recent converts to Islam.

The crowd was bigger than usual at Ottawa's cenotaph and security tight at an event attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who cut short a trip to the APEC summit in China to participate in Tuesday's ceremony.

"Everything that has led up to this (year), that's different," said John Theoret, 52, who served in the military for 15 years.

On Oct. 22, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, was standing in unarmed, ceremonial watch at the war memorial when he was shot by a man who then ran into the Parliament building, exchanging fire with security officers before he was killed.

Two days before the shooting in the capital, warrant officer Patrice Vincent was killed when a man ran over him and a fellow soldier with his car near Montreal.

The attacks were carried out as Canada's military joined air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq. On Monday, two Canadian operating bases in Kuwait and Iraq were named after the slain soldiers.

The twin events prompted debate over whether Canada's parliament needs stronger security put in place.

Canadian police were out in force on Tuesday, with more uniformed officers on the ground. The Royal Canadian Legion said it expected more than 40,000 people to attend the ceremony.

Britain's Princess Anne will participate in the rededication of the national war memorial, which was originally built to commemorate Canadians who died in World War One.

(Editing by Grant McCool)