Parliament Hill came under attack when a man with a rifle shot a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, before seizing a car and driving to the doors of building's Centre Block nearby.

MPs and other witnesses reported several shots fired inside Parliament and a gunman has been confirmed dead inside the building, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The report quoted police sources as saying that there is more than one suspect, and shots have been reported at other locations surrounding Parliament Hill as the downtown area remained in police lockdown.

It was not immediately known if there are further injuries but paramedics were seen carrying a stretcher into the Chateau Laurier Hotel, just east of Parliament Hill. There were reports of shots fired there as well.

Alain Merisier, who works at the cafeteria in one of the Parliament Buildings, said he saw a man in a car at the Centre Block with a long gun.

Witnesses said they then heard shots fired and there was an unconfirmed report of a person injured outside the Library of the Parliament.    

Police confirmed the shooting at the National War Memorial and sealed off the area while the injured soldier was given emergency medical aid. He was later put into an ambulance.

"We were waiting there for a city tour and suddenly I heard four shots," said Jan Luchtenburg, a tourist visiting
downtown Ottawa from Holland.

"Suddenly I saw a small guy with long black hair... with a long rifle, and he ran away after the shots, across streets in the direction of Parliament Hill," he said.

The National War Memorial stands in Confederation Square in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The Parliament Buildings are to the northeast.

Scott Walsh, who was working on Parliament Hill, said he saw a man running with a double-barrelled shotgun, wearing a scarf and blue jeans.

Cabinet ministers, MPs and journalists in the buildings housing the House of Commons and Senate were in lockdown as police tracked the gunman.

The Prime Minister's Office said Stephen Harper is safe and not on Parliament Hill. Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau are also safe, reports said.

Police are still searching for any other gunmen, and have sealed off the area, moving bystanders and reporters to the nearby Chateau Laurier Hotel. Other witnesses were taken to the city's police headquarters.

The US Embassy was also locked down after reports of shots being fired.

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