An explosion rocked the Prince Edward Island legislature on Thursday, injuring one man and sending a shower of glass over lawmakers.
Glass and debris were hurled at least three blocks by the midafternoon blast, which took place when the 32-seat legislature was in session.
Investigators believe the explosion was caused by a pipe bomb planted under a wooden wheelchair ramp that leads into the northeast entrance, said police spokesman Constable Richard Collins.
A motive for the bombing was not immediately known.
Police cordoned off the area in the heart of downtown, and called for help from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police bomb squad in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Security was immediately increased at other provincial legislatures, and authorities in nearby Dartmouth went on alert Thursday after the Chamber of Commerce received a printed threat saying a bomb could go off at any time.
The injured man was cut in the legs by flying glass while sitting on an outdoor bench about six yards from the blast. Police did not identify the man, who was taken to a hospital, bleeding profusely.
A Queen Elizabeth hospital spokesman said late Thursday he was in stable condition.
Police investigators say the man could be an important witness, and also did not rule him out as a suspect.
Lawmaker Ross Young was in the legislature when the explosion sent a cascade of jagged glass across the chamber.
“It was the loudest noise I ever heard,” Young said. “Everyone jumped out of their seats, hit the floor, and there was glass everywhere, and papers were flying.”
Fearing another attack, lawmakers crawled out of the building on their hands and knees, he said.
Most witnesses reported a heavy smell of gunpowder inside the building following the blast.
Most of the windows on the northeast side of the building were blown out. The historic structure, where Canada’s confederation was negotiated in 1864, is one of the country’s most famous tourist sites.
Robert MacGregor, another lawmaker, was standing outside the building when the blast occurred.
“This is a shocking affair, especially in light of what happened in Oklahoma,” he said.
The following fields overflowed: DATELINE = CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
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