Suspect Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was arrested shortly after the June 6 attack in a parking lot in London, Ontario, a short distance from the city's oldest mosque.

A court sketch of Nathaniel Veltman, accused of deliberately driving down and killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont. appearing in court on June 10, 2021.
A court sketch of Nathaniel Veltman, accused of deliberately driving down and killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont. appearing in court on June 10, 2021. ()

Prosecutors laid terrorism charges against a man accused of driving down and killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario.

The prosecution said on Monday Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism and prosecutors have upgraded those charges under Canada's criminal code. 

Police alleged the incident was a planned and premeditated attack targeting Muslims.

Veltman also faces one count of attempted murder due to terrorism activity.

The upgraded charges were laid as Veltman made a brief court appearance via video Monday morning. He has yet to enter a plea.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland reacted to the new charges afterward, saying: "It is really important for us to name it as an act of terror ... and it is important for us identify the terrible threat that white supremacism poses to Canada and to Canadians."

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Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal were killed while out for an evening walk on June 6.

The couple’s nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously injured but is expected to recover.

Saboor Khan, a friend of the family, said upgrading the charges against Veltman was "the right thing to do.″

"The family and the community has been terrorised and many of us are afraid to leave our homes,″ Khan said.

A funeral for the family drew hundreds of mourners to the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario over the weekend.

Veltman’s next court date is scheduled for June 21.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies