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.
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
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.