The six men killed in a Quebec City mosque on Sunday night were shot as they gathered for evening prayers, says the vice-president of the mosque where the attack occurred.

"It's a very, very big tragedy for us," Mohamed Labidi said tearfully. "We have a sadness we cannot express."

The victims, many of whom were fathers to small children, include a grocer who helped newcomers settle into the community, an esteemed food scientist who fled violence in Algeria in search of a better life for his family, a programming analyst for the Quebec government, two friends from Guinea and a pharmacy worker known for his kindness.

Here is what we know about them so far.

Azzeddine Soufiane

The 57-year-old father of three was a grocer, butcher, and longtime Quebec City resident who often helped guide newcomers to the provincial capital.

He owned and operated the Boucherie Assalam in Sainte-Foy, less than a kilometre away from the Islamic cultural centre where the shooting took place.

Azzedine Soufiane

Azzeddine Soufiane was the owner of a halal grocery store known for welcoming newcomers to Quebec City. (Submitted by Ali Ouldache)

"Mr. Soufiane was someone who was well-known in Quebec because he opened one of the first community businesses here," said Karim Elabed, an imam at a mosque in nearby Lévis.

"Myself, when I arrived here eight years ago, [his shop] was the first place I learned about and pretty much all of Quebec's Muslims did their groceries there."

'He was a father to everyone, a brother to everyone — very tolerant, very respectful.'
- Ali Ouldache, friend and customer 

Soufiane, who was of Moroccan descent, was known throughout the community as an approachable, supportive figure.

Amine Noui, a friend and longtime customer, said Soufiane was one of the first people he met when he first moved to Quebec 10 years ago, and Soufiane helped him integrate into the community.

"He was very nice, social, well-liked by all his customers," said Noui. "He was a father to everyone here."

epicerie

Azzedine Soufiane owned the Boucherie Assalam in Sainte-Foy, Que. (Radio-Canada)

Ali Ouldache, who arrived in 2007, said Soufiane was the first person he spoke to when he arrived from France, a little bit lost in his new surroundings.

"[His store] was really my refuge and we became friends after that," Ouldache said. "He was a father to everyone, a brother to everyone — very tolerant, very respectful."

Soufiane was someone who really loved Quebec, Ouldache said, a true Québécois, who had called the province home for 30 years.

"He was really likable and generous," Ouldache said. "It's a tragedy, the way he died."

Khaled Belkacemi

Khaled Belkacemi

Khaled Belkacemi was a professor at Laval University. (Laval University INAF)

Belkacemi, 60, was a professor of soil and agri-food engineering at Laval University, also in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood. He earned his bachelor of science in chemical engineering from Polytechnic School of Algiers in Algeria in 1983 and graduated with a PhD from Sherbrooke University in 1990.

His area of research focused on green chemistry and functional foods. He was the keynote speaker at the 66th Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference in Quebec City last October.

In a statement, Laval University Rector Denis Brière offered his condolences to Belkacemi's family and friends.

On his Facebook page, Belkacemi's son, Amir, said his father was loved by all.

"My father, a good man, an example of resilience, a man loved by all, a professor and researcher emeritus, a fighter, a man who left his country to give his family a chance to live far away from horror."

Labidi, the vice-president at the mosque where the attack took place, said Belkacemi was a good friend.

"He wouldn't have hurt anyone," Labidi said. "He was so kind and gentle."

Retired Laval professor Hani Antoun described Belkacemi as a valued colleague and respected scientist. He said Belkacemi was married to another professor in the department and had three children.

"He was a kind person, someone who was appreciated by everyone," Antoun said. "He was a renowned scientist who was very well-known. It's an enormous loss."

Aboubaker Thabti

Boubaker Thabti

Aboubaker Thabti was a father of two who worked at a pharmacy. (Photo from Facebook)

Friends of Thabti, 44, told the Globe and Mail he worked in a pharmacy and had two young children.

Abder Dhakkar told the newspaper that Thabti was one of the first people he met when he came to Quebec City from Montreal a year-and-a-half ago.

"He's so kind; everyone loves him — everyone," he said.

Mamadou Tanou and Ibrahima Barry

Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, and Ibrahima Barry, 39, are friends from Guinea, according to Souleymane Bah, president of the Association of Guineans in Quebec.

Quebec Mosque Shooting Victims 20170130

Mamadou Tanou Barry was the father of two toddlers, aged three and one-and-a-half. (Moussa Sangare/Canadian Press)

Mamadou, who worked in information technology, was the father of two toddlers, aged three and one-and-a-half.

Ibrahima, who worked for Quebec's Revenue Ministry, was a father of four. His children are aged 13, seven, three and two.

Quebec Mosque Shooting Victims 20170130

Ibrahima Barry worked for Quebec's Revenue Ministry and was a father of four, aged two to 13. (Moussa Sangare/Canadian Press)

The Guinean government posted a statement on its website following the shooting.

"In this painful circumstance, the government of Guinea expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the Canadian government, the families of the disappeared and the entire nation," it said.

"Guinean representatives in Canada are actively engaged in meeting the families of our compatriots and expressing the support of the nation as a whole."

Abdelkrim Hassane

Hassane, 41, was Algerian and worked as a programming analyst for the Quebec government. He had three daughters, aged 10, eight and 15 months.

Abdelkrim Hassane

Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, was a programming analyst for the Quebec government and a father of three. (Facebook)

A GoFundMe page launched to collect money for funeral services and support the victims' families raised more than $80,000 in 17 hours. The crowdfunding campaign was started by Montrealer Romney Copeman.

He told CBC's Homerun that he'd partnered with Islamic Relief Canada to help handle the large sum of money. "I'm going to ensure that the funds are transferred to the registered charity so the money ends up directly in the hands of families."

Five others injured in the attack are still in hospital.

GFX: Quebec Mosque Shooting Victims

(CBC News)

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry were brothers. In fact, the two men are not related.
    Jan 31, 2017 9:13 AM ET

Clarifications

  • The first published versions of this story stated the shooting victims were shot in the back, while praying. As eyewitness reports have become available, CBC has learned the shooting happened just after prayers ended, and victims were shot inside the mosque entrance, in the prayer room and elsewhere.
    Feb 01, 2017 1:29 PM ET
With files Marilla Steuter-Martin, Sheena Goodyear, Canadian Press and Radio-Canada's Cathy Senay