One gunman is dead and another may be on the loose in Ottawa.
Much of the capital is on lockdown after shots were fired on Parliament Hill. Police and RCMP are carrying out an intensive search of the downtown core, going door-to-door and checking cars.
The RCMP has said it cannot confirm whether or not there is a second individual involved in the attack. Speaking at a press conference at 11:30 PST, officers asked the public to report any suspicious activity to authorities.
“This is a dynamic and unfolding situation," said Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner for the RCMP's national division in Ottawa. "I understand that people have many questions and we are committed to providing answers as soon as possible.”
He added that the investigation will continue for as long as necessary and said that all required police resources are available and have been deployed to areas affected by the attack.
“We are continually assessing and monitoring the situation as we move forward," Michaud said.
Major general Christopher Cotes, a deputy commander with the Royal Canadian Air Force, added few details but conceded there was little warning before the attack.
“It caught us by surprise,” he said.
Ottawa residents have been asked to refrain from travelling to the city's downtown core. People who live downtown have been instructed to stay in their buildings and to follow authorities' instructions as they come.
Earlier this morning (October 22), MPs and journalists in the area reported that a large number of shots were fired in several locations.
One Canadian Armed Forces soldier stationed at the National War Memorial was shot and has been confirmed dead.
Cellphone video captured by a Globe and Mail reporter depicts a chaotic scene inside a Parliament building hallway that connects the Centre Block to a library. A large number of shots can be heard and people are seen ducking for cover.
Gunfire was also reported at the Chateau Laurier Hotel located just east of Parliament Hill.
CBC News reports that at least two people have been taken to Ottawa Civic Hospital. Their injuries are believed to be non-life-threatening.
Speaking at the press conference, RCMP officers said they could not yet confirm any details about who is responsible for the attack.
Security experts have gone on television and have been quick to raise concerns for attacks inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). There are also comparisons being drawn to terrorist attacks against the United States. At the time of writing, there was no information about the suspected gunmen available.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said it is too early to describe the attacks as an act of terrorism.
Parliament Hill has been evacuated and police have cordoned off surrounding streets.
The Prime Minister’s Office has reported that Stephen Harper is safe and is not on Parliament Hill or in the area where police continue to search for a second gunman. The Liberal Party and NDP have also said that their respective leaders, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair, have not been harmed.
In Vancouver, Mayor Gregor Robertson issued a statement calling today's news "shocking and tragic".
Robertson said he has spoken with Vancouver police chief Jim Chu and that Vancouver is taking "every possible added precaution in light of these events."
"All Canadians owe tremendous thanks to Canada's first responders and our colleagues in Ottawa who are working hard to support those affected by these senseless acts of violence," he said in a statement.