OTTAWA: Canada's Parliament came under attack today with a barrage of gunshots fired both inside and outside the building as security forces gunned down a man suspected of killing a soldier.
Parliament Hill came under attack when a man with a rifle shot a soldier standing guard at the nearby National War Memorial here, before seizing a car and driving to the doors of building's Centre Block.
Heavily armed officers backed by armored vehicles sealed off the Parliament building.
"One shooting victim succumbed to injuries. He was a member of the Canadian forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones," the Ottawa Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
"One male suspect has also been confirmed as deceased," they said.
The motive of the attack was not known but it came two days after a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run before being shot to death by police.
MPs and other witnesses reported several shots fired inside Parliament, the CBC-TV reported.
Ottawa police confirmed shots were fired in three locations: the war memorial, inside Centre Block of the Parliament and at the Rideau Centre. The downtown area remained in police lockdown.
Police said an investigation was continuing and did not confirm earlier reports that more gunmen were involved. "This is a dynamic and unfolding situation. I understand that people have many questions and we are committed to providing some answers as soon as we are able," Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Division, told reporters.
Alain Merisier, who works at the cafeteria in one of the Parliament Buildings, said he saw a man in a car at the Centre Block with a long gun.
"We were waiting there for a city tour and suddenly I heard four shots," said Jan Luchtenburg, a tourist visiting Ottawa from Holland.
"Suddenly I saw a small guy with long black hair... with a long rifle, and he ran away after the shots, across streets in the direction of Parliament Hill," he said.
The National War Memorial stands in Confederation Square in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The Parliament Buildings are to the northeast.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the shootings as a "despicable attack". He was present in the Parliament building but was immediately taken to a secure place as the assault began. Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau are also safe, reports said.
The US Embassy was also locked down after reports of shots being fired.
The US and Canadian air defenses were placed on heightened alert after the shootings.