Gunman strikes at rally for new leader

A MASKED gunman bizarrely dressed in a balaclava and bathrobe shot dead one person and injured another during a victory rally for Quebec’s new premier.

Pauline Marois, of the separatist Parti Quebecois, was unhurt and whisked off stage by guards while giving her speech on Tuesday.

He is understood to be a 62-year-old gun and hunting shop owner, who police said opened fire in the back of the hall while Ms Marois was giving her victory speech to hundreds of supporters at the Metropolis auditorium.

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“What’s going on?” Ms Marois asked her security as they pulled her off the stage during the celebration of her party’s victory in the provincial election.

The gunman then fled outside where he started a small fire before he was captured, police said.

Witnesses have claimed the man, who was reported to be carrying a handgun and an AK47, also threw a molotov cocktail.

Police said they did not know his motive. As he was being dragged towards a police car, he was heard shouting in French, “The English are waking up!”

The suspect was wearing a black ski or balaclava mask and a blue bathrobe over black clothes

One victim was pronounced dead at the scene and a second person was wounded. A third person was treated for shock.

Ms Marois returned to the stage after the shooting and finished her speech before asking the crowd to disperse. She left the hall amid a tight cordon of police.

The separatist party won the election, but failed to win a majority of legislative seats. Although the Parti Quebecois wants the province to break away from Canada, its victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence.

Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum after previous ones had been rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995.

It is not the first time there has been political violence in Quebec related to tensions between the French and English.

In the 1970s Canadian soldiers were put on street patrol because of a spate of terrorism by a group demanding independence from Canada.