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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 23:04 GMT
Memorial for shot Canadian police
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers stand guard in front of pictures of the victims
The deaths marked the worst single loss of police life for 120 years
Thousands of people have gathered for a memorial service in Edmonton, western Canada, to honour four police officer killed on duty last week.

Police from Canada and the US joined dignitaries, including Prime Minister Paul Martin, for the service - the largest in the force's history.

The four men were shot dead in a raid on a farm - in what was the deadliest attack on Canada's police in 120 years.

They were shot by the farm's owner, who then turned the gun on himself.

Emotional scenes

Hundreds of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) wearing their traditional scarlet tunics marched into the sports arena where the service was held.

Funeral procession for slain RCMP Constable Peter Schiemann

Inside, pictures of the four victims rested on a stage, as the men's hats were ceremoniously borne into the arena on cushions.

The emotionally charged scenes broadcast live on television.

"Canadians are shaken as we ponder the sudden deaths of four young men who had sworn to serve and protect us," said Canada's Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

Earlier, police officers from all over Canada and the US streamed into the city to pay last respects to their fallen colleagues.

"We have to be there to offer our support," Toronto Police Association Dave Wilson told Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper.

"On any given day, this kind of thing could happen to any one of us," Mr Wilson said.

'Wicked devil'

On Tuesday, at least 1,400 people attended the first of four funerals, for 25-year-old Peter Schiemann. Hundreds more watched on closed-circuit television at a nearby school.

Funeral services for Anthony Gordon, 28, Lionide Johnston, 32, and 29-year-old Brock Myrol will take place this week.

RCMP officials have faced criticism for the way the 3 March operation, near the village of Rochfort Bridge, was handled.

Canadian media reports suggested Schiemann was off-duty and was neither armed nor wearing body armour at the time of incident.

According to police accounts of the tragedy, the farm's owner, James Roszko, fled before officers found more than 100 cannabis plants.

The four officers were shot dead as they guarded the farm overnight.

It is not known how Roszko was able to get back onto his property.

Roszko, 46, was described by his estranged father as a "wicked devil" who hated police.

A convicted paedophile, Roszko was known to local Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers as violent and unstable, officials said.


SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Mounties' memorial
10 Mar 05 |  In Pictures
Police killed in Canada drug raid
04 Mar 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Canada
15 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Canada
11 Feb 05 |  Country profiles


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