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Shooting mars Quebec election victory speech

A gunman has killed one person and seriously injured another before being arrested in Montreal. He targeted an election victory speech delivered by new premier-elect Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois.

The suspect fired at least two shots with a rifle and set fire to the rear entrance in a Montreal theater where separatist leader Pauline Marois was delivering a victory speech. Constable Danny Richer said that the shooter was subsequently arrested, one person was killed and another injured in the incident. Richer added that the shooter appeared to be in his fifties.

Marois was rushed off stage by bodyguards, but was uninjured and later returned to ask supporters to evacuate the premises.

Watch video 00:19

Video: Marois security team respond to shots

Initial reports suggested that the shooter was an English-speaking Canadian unhappy with the projected victory for Marois' Parti Quebecois (PQ), which advocates independence for French-speaking Canada.

The Canandian Broadcasting Corp reported that the man shouted "the English are waking up" in French as he was being escorted to a police car.

According to projected results calculated by Canadian television channels, the PQ is on course to win only a minority government in Quebec, displacing the ruling Liberal party and its veteran state premier Jean Charest - who had served three terms.

"Tonight we have a new chapter in our history and I hope this will be our opportunity to find our pride as a people. As a nation we want to make the decisions about the things that are important to us. We want a country, and we will have it," Marois had told supporters moments before being whisked to safety.

Charest to lose seat, as well as leadership

Charest even lost in his hometown of Sherbrooke to the PQ candidate Serge Cardin, leaving his lengthy political career in tatters.

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois addresses party supporters after winning a minority government in the Quebec provincial election in Montreal, Quebec, September 4, 2012. (Reuters)

Marois is seeking an independent Quebec, but she may have to wait

Initial results suggested that the PQ would win 54 of the 125 available seats in the provincial legislature, ending around a decade of Liberal rule. The Liberals looked set to bag 50 seats.

Canada's Conservative Party federal Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, issued a statement congratulating Marois on her victory.

Previous PQ governments held referenda on independence in 1980 and 1995, but both failed. Marois, who is set to become Quebec's first female premier, pledged another vote on independence when the time is right, but analysts do not expect that to be soon. Opinion polls suggest the vote would fail by a far larger margin than in the past. The election campaign was primarily dominated by issues like employment, the economy, healthcare and social matters.

msh/sej (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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