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Terrorist ideology blamed in Canada car attack

SAINT-JEAN-SUR-RICHELIEU, Quebec — A young convert to Islam who killed a Canadian soldier in a hit-and-run had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and had seized his passport, authorities said Tuesday.

The suspect was shot dead by police after a chase in the Quebec city of Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu. A second soldier suffered minor injuries in Monday’s attack.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the attack was ‘‘clearly linked to terrorist ideology.’’ Quebec police spokesman Guy Lapointe said the act was deliberate and that one of the two soldiers was in uniform. Lapointe said there were no other suspects.

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An official identified the assailant as Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25.

He was known to authorities and recently had his passport seized, Commissioner Bob Paulson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. He was one of 90 suspected extremists in the country who intend to join fights abroad or who have returned from overseas. However, it was not known whether the assailant had any ties to Islamic militant groups.

‘‘He was part of our investigative efforts to try to identify those people who might commit a criminal act traveling abroad for terrorist purposes,’’ Paulson said.

There was no answer at Couture-Rouleau’s home in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, on Tuesday morning, and no sign of police. Neighbor Daniel Fortin said he had known Couture-Rouleau, who lived with his father, since he was a child.

Fortin said over the past year or so, Couture-Rouleau grew out his beard and began wearing loose-fitting Muslim clothing but Fortin never felt threatened. Fortin said Couture-Roleau’s father was worried as he became increasingly radicalized and ‘‘tried everything,’’ to help him.

Another neighbor, who declined to be named, said she saw police visit the home on more than one occasion over the past few months.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the slain soldier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was a 28-year veteran with ‘‘distinguished service.’’

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‘‘This was a despicable act of violence that strikes against not just this soldier and his colleagues but frankly against our very values as a civilized democracy,’’ Harper told Parliament.

Lapointe said the other victim is in stable condition.

The assailant sat in his car outside a veterans’ support center for at least two hours before the hit-and-run, Lapointe said. He was brandishing a knife when he emerged from his crashed vehicle and police opened fire.