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At least 50 dead in worst mass shooting in US history

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FLORIDA — At least 50 people have been killed and another 53 injured after a heavily armed gunman opened fire and seized hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police say, in the worst mass shooting in US history.

As per local police, the shooter, identified as a 29-year-old US citizen of Afghan descent, had an assault-type weapon and a handgun as he stormed the gay club at around 2:00 am local time (0600 GMT).

Furious gun control supporters are questioning why laws are still permitting people with radical thinking or mental illness to acquire assault weapons.

US President Barack Obama was briefed on the mass shooting, which police described as an act of terrorism.

“Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate,” Obama said, later ordering flags at half-staff as an act of mourning.

Obama also expressed heartbreak over the “horrific massacre”, branding it an act of terror and hate.

The US President, however, did not mention Islam or Islamic terrorism, as being blamed by some of his political opponents.

Hours after the untoward incident took place, while addressing a press conference, Florida Governor Rick Scott said, “The overnight shooting at a gay nightclub that left 50 dead and 53 wounded is “clearly an act of terror.”

“For somebody to go in there and be an active shooter and take that number (of lives) … is clearly an act of terror,” the Republican said.

Orlando mass shooting

Around 100 people were at the nightclub at the time of the shooting, and the shooter was killed by police in a shoot-out.

US officials cautioned, however, that they had no immediate evidence of any direct connection with Islamic State or any other foreign extremist group.

A police officer working as a security guard inside the Pulse nightclub, which has operated in downtown Orlando since 2004 and was hosting some 350 revelers, exchanged fire with the suspect, according to police.

Dozens of terrified patrons, some of whom had been hiding in restrooms, were rescued. One officer was injured when he was hit in his helmet while exchanging fire with the gunman, police added.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on a congressional intelligence committee, noted that the shooting took place during Ramadan, and that ISIS leaders in Syria have urged attacks during this time.

With Agency Inputs

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Tourist arrivals jumped 73.5 percent in July

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KATHMANDU — Tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 73.5 percent in the month of July, according to statistics released by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The NTB said that this increment is because of a sharp increase in the number of travellers from countries like India, China, the US and the UK. The growth in the numbers has also been attributed to Indian pilgrims visiting Mount Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, via Nepal.

The statistics show that Nepal received a whopping 73,285 international tourists in July—a time of the year that is considered to be an off-season for tourists due to the monsoons. With July’s figures, the number of foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the first seven months (January–July) of 2018 reached 593,299, which is an increase of 18 percent as compared to the same period last year.

Total 18,385 Indian tourists visited Nepal via air transport, which is up 80.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

After India, Nepal received the highest number of visitors from China. The Chinese tourist numbers have more than doubled to 13,123 in the month of July. This is a 125.4 percent growth in comparison to the arrivals in the same month last year.

Overall arrivals from SAARC countries registered a growth of 66 percent, in comparison to the same month last year. However, arrivals from Bangladesh declined by nine percent. Arrivals from rest of the Asian countries have also recorded a robust growth of 86.2 percent.

Visitors from Japan and South Korea to Nepal also increased by 36 percent and 21.9 percent respectively.

Likewise, an overall increase of 54.1 percent in July has been recorded from European source markets. However, arrivals from Austria declined by 72.6 percent.

The number of visitors from the US and Canada have also grown by 79.6 percent and 73.3 percent respectively.

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