Fifteen people injured in an explosion inside an Indian restaurant in Mississauga, Ont. have been released from hospital as police continue to search for two masked men who fled the scene.
Police have not made any arrests in connection with the blast at Bombay Bhel restaurant late on Thursday. Three people suffered critical injuries in the blast, and 12 others sustained smaller shrapnel injuries.
Both the mayor of Mississauga and the city’s chief of police say the investigation is in its infancy, and they have no reason to believe the attack was a hate crime or an act of terrorism.
Two masked men entered the restaurant in central Mississauga just after 10:30 p.m. Thursday and detonated an improvised explosive device before fleeing into a nearby residential area, police said. Police believe the men then drove off in a vehicle.
Witnesses said the blast could be heard from four blocks away.
Two separate birthday parties were underway at the time. Several children under the age of 10 were inside the restaurant, but none were injured.
Those most seriously injured included a 35-year-old Brampton man, a 48-year-old Mississauga woman and a 62-year-old Mississauga woman.
All 15 victims were taken to hospital and treated. The three people hurt worst in the blast were the last to be released on Friday.
Police released a photo of the two masked men entering the restaurant. One suspect is described as being in his mid-20s, with light-coloured skin and a stocky build, wearing dark blue jeans and a baseball cap with light grey peak.
The second has fair skin with a thin build and was wearing faded jeans, a grey T-shirt with dark-coloured skate shoes.
Police officers scoured a neighbourhood just east of the restaurant on Friday. In one area, investigators took measurements of what appeared to be footprints in a patch of dirt. Police also found two gloves on the sidewalk and took them as evidence.
Officers spent part of the morning knocking on doors and asking residents for any surveillance video they may have of the suspects.
Closer to the plaza, investigators were seen combing a grassy area behind the restaurant in search of clues.
Mayor: ‘A heinous act’
The motive behind the attack remains unclear. Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans said there is no indication of terrorism, but nothing has been ruled out.
“Every police resource is being used right now to identify those responsible for this horrendous act,” Evans said.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie called the bombing “senseless.”
“I would call it a very heinous reprehensible act committed by cowards who would come into a restaurant where people are vulnerable, celebrating with their families, where children are present, and set off an IED. It’s a heinous act,” she told reporters outside the restaurant.
Crombie said she believes her city is still one of the safest in Canada, and that this was an “isolated” incident.
Police initially entered the restaurant to search for other explosives and for any other victims. None were found. They are now waiting to obtain a search warrant to conduct a full investigation of the scene.
Police are looking to track down several people who were at the restaurant but left before police arrived.
“This is a really serious investigation,” Evans said told reporters early Friday morning. “We want to take our time, make sure we’re very methodical in it. So we’re putting a lot of resources into this right now.”
Crombie said she has heard from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory, all of whom offered their condolences and support.