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Gunman Kills One During Speech By Quebec Separatist Leader

A gunman opened fire as Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois was giving a victory speech following provincial elections.
In Canada, police say one person was shot dead and another injured when a man opened fire inside the theater where the prime minister-elect of Quebec Province was giving a victory speech following provincial elections.

The incoming prime minister, Pauline Marois, was whisked off the stage by her bodyguards and was not injured in the incident around midnight in Montreal on September 4.

Marois -- the leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois, which seeks independence for the predominantly French-speaking province – later returned to the stage to finish her speech.

Police said they arrested a 50-year-old male suspect over the shooting.

Police said the suspect also lit a small fire at the back of the building before being captured.

The motive for the violence was not immediately clear. Reports say the suspect appeared to shout in French: “The English are waking up” as he was detained by police.

Politically-motivated violence is extremely rare in Canada, with the last such incident dating back to 1970.

Marois, 63, is the first woman to be elected Quebec's prime minister.

During her election campaign, she promised to hold another referendum on independence "when the conditions are right."

In her speech on September 4, she reiterated that her party's goal was for Quebec to become independent.

"It is my conviction that the future of Quebec is to become a sovereign country," she said.

With just 54 seats from the September 4 election, her Parti Quebecois fell short of the 63 seats needed in the 125-seat parliament to form a majority government.

Two previous Parti Quebecois governments held unsuccessful independence referendums in 1980 and 1995.

Recent opinion polls show only 28 percent of Quebec's 7.8 million people want the province to secede from Canada.

The province's outgoing prime minister, Jean Charest, said the election results showed that "the future of Quebec lies within Canada."

Charest's Liberal Party, which governed the province for nine years, managed to hold onto 50 seats in parliament.

Canada's federal prime minister, Stephen Harper, said in a written statement that he does not believe people in Quebec "wish to revisit the old constitutional battles of the past."

He also said Canadians were "appalled" by the shooting incident.

In the last incident of political violence, in Quebec in 1970, members of a radical separatist group assassinated the province's labor minister, Pierre Laporte.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP