Toronto van attack: Vehicles used as weapons in recent global attacks

Firefighters stand near a covered body after a van struck multiple people at a major intersection northern Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on April 23, 2018.
Firefighters stand near a covered body after a van struck multiple people at a major intersection northern Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on April 23, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

This article was first published on March 23, 2017, and updated on April 24, 2018.

Ten people were killed and 16 were injured, after a white Ryder rental van ploughed through a busy Toronto sidewalk on a sunny Monday afternoon (April 23).

The incident occurred just before 1.30pm (1.30am Singapore time) as large crowds of office workers were on lunch breaks. 

It was one of the worst mass killings in the modern history of Canada, with witnesses describing horrific scenes of "pure carnage".

One witness described the driver as appearing to deliberately target victims on his roughly mile-long (1.6 km-long) rampage. Another said the van had mowed down everything in its path: pedestrians, mailboxes, electrical poles, benches and a fire hydrant.

The driver, identified as Alek Minassian, 25, is currently in police custody. 

The incident in Toronto is the latest in a disturbing trend of vehicles being used as weapons in attacks around the world.

Here are other incidents. 

December 2017: Melbourne crash


A white SUV "collided with a number of pedestrians" on the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth streets in Melbourne on Dec 21, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

At least 14 people were injured, several critically, after a car drove into a crowd in Melbourne's central business district on Dec 21 in what the police called a "deliberate act".

The white Suzuki SUV "collided with a number of pedestrians" on the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth streets just before 5pm local time (4pm Singapore time).

Police arrested the driver as well as a second man, Australian media reported.Those injured include a young child, who suffered a head injury.

November 2017: Manhattan truck attack 


Investigators near the rented pickup truck which struck down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path in New York City on Oct 31, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

A man driving a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path alongside the Hudson River in New York City on Oct 31.

The attack, in what authorities said was an act of terrorism, left eight people dead and about 12 others injured. 

The 29-year-old suspect was shot in the abdomen by police and arrested after he crashed the truck into a school bus and fled his vehicle. US law enforcement sources had said that he is an Uzbekistan-born immigrant, who left a note claiming that he carried out the attack in the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

August 2017: Barcelona van rampage and Cambrils attack


Police and emergency services attend to injured people at the scene after a van ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona's top tourist area of Las Ramblas on Aug 17, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

On Aug 17, a van ploughed into a crowd in a terrorist attack on a busy pedestrian street in Las Ramblas, a popular area in the city centre of Barcelona, Spain, killing 16 people and injuring more than a hundred others.

Witnesses said that the driver fled the scene on foot. 

Hours later, in the seaside town of Cambrils, a car rammed into people before crashing into a police vehicle.


A worker loads onto a tow truck the suspected car which rammed into several people in the resort town of Cambrils, 120km south of Barcelona, on Aug 17, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

The five occupants of the Audi A3 jumped out and went on a stabbing spree, killing a woman, before they were shot dead by police.

June 2017: London Bridge attack


Police officers stand at a cordon near Blackfriars Bridge on the South Bank of the Thames on June 4, 2017, a day after an attack on London Bridge and Borough Market. PHOTO: REUTERS

On June 3, eight people were killed in a terror attack in the British capital when a van smashed into pedestrians on London Bridge before three assailants ran down to Borough Market with knives.

There, the trio appeared to have stabbed people at random. They also rampaged through the area, entering the many pubs and restaurants to stab anyone in sight.

The three men were shot dead by the police at the scene. 

April 2017: Stockholm truck attack


A truck drove into a crowd on a shopping street and crashed into a department store in central Stockholm on April 7, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

A truck mowed into a crowd of people outside a busy department store in central Stockholm on April 7, killing four and sending the city into lockdown, About 15 others were injured.

The incident occurred just before 1300 GMT (9:00pm Singapore time) at the corner of the Ahlens department store and the city’s biggest pedestrian street Drottningatan, above-ground from Stockholm’s central subway station.  

In the days after, police arrested two men in connection to the attack. The main suspect, an Uzbek construction worker and father of four, was believed to have ISIS sympathies, reports said.

March 2017: London Westminster attack


A picture obtained from the Twitter account of James West, shows a car stopped on the sidewalk in front of the Palace of Westminster which houses the Houses of Parliament in central London. PHOTO: AFP

At least five people were killed and 40 injured on March 22 when an attacker drove a car through the crowd along Westminster Bridge in London and crashed near parliament.

Those dead included the assailant, 52-year-old Khalid Masood, and a police officer, who was fatally stabbed with a knife. 

Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack as “sick and depraved”. 

Jan 2017: Jerusalem lorry attack


A man walks next to a newly erected concrete barriers at the entrance to Jabel Mukaber, the morning after a Palestinian rammed his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers. PHOTO: REUTERS

On Jan 8, four Israeli soldiers were killed and at least 15 Israelis injured when a man ran them over with a lorry in Jerusalem.

After driving into them at high speed, the lorry reversed and ploughed into the crowd again.

Police called it "a terrorist attack, a ramming attack".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the assailant, who was shot dead by soldiers, was likely a supporter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Palestinian officials said the attacker was a Palestinian from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber.

Dec 2016: Berlin Christmas market attack


Officials inspecting the scene after a truck crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin. PHOTO: AFP

A man driving a lorry ploughed through a busy Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, on Dec 19, killing 12 people and injuring more than 50 others.

The vehicle smashed wooden stalls and crushed victims at the market, which was frequented by both locals and tourists.

German authorities launched a manhunt across Europe for the attacker, 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri.

The prime suspect was shot dead by Italian police in Milan on Dec 23.

Nov 2016: Ohio university attack

On Nov 28, an 18-year-old Somali immigrant drove a car into a group of pedestrians on a university campus in Ohio.

The attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan was a student at the Ohio State University where he carried out the assault. After driving into pedestrians, he jumped out and stabbed passers-by with a butcher's knife before being shot dead by a police officer.

More than 10 people were wounded in the attack.

Authorities later said they believe Artan was inspired by terrorist propaganda from ISIS and a dead Yemeni-American cleric. ISIS subsequently released a statement claiming his attack as a response to their call to attack citizens of coalition nations against them, but no evidence of a relation between Artan and the group has been found.

July 2016: Bastille Day attack in Nice


French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck on July 15 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing several people in Nice, France, on July 14. PHOTO: REUTERS

On July 14, a cargo truck was driven into a crowd of some 30,000 revellers celebrating Bastille Day or France's National Day in Nice, France.

The horrific attack, captured on video, killed 86 people and left more than 400 others injured, many of them grievously.

Police shot the driver, 31-year-old Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, dead. ISIS later claimed him as one of their followers.

SOURCES: AFP, CNN, REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES