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At least 50 dead in worst mass shooting in US history

Gorkha Post

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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.

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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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Israeli fighter jets strike Gaza after blast wounds four soldiers

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GAZA CITY — Israeli fighter jets struck the Gaza Strip on Saturday after four soldiers were wounded when an improvised explosive device blew up along the border with the Palestinian enclave.

The explosion earlier Saturday, which left two of the Israeli soldiers severely injured, was one of the most serious incidents on the border of the Hamas-ruled enclave since the Islamist movement and Israel fought a war in 2014.

In response Israel’s army said “fighter jets targeted six military targets in Gaza belonging to Hamas, including: a terror tunnel in the Zaytun area and military compounds near Deir el-Balah and Khan Yunis”.

The army then reported a “launch was identified from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a security conference in Munich called the Gaza border incident “very serious” and pledged to ‘respond appropriately’.

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A Palestinian security source said the Israeli air strikes hit three bases belonging to Hamas in the east of the blockaded Gaza enclave.

Two Palestinians were injured in the raids, Palestinian medical sources said.

Earlier in the day the army said “two soldiers were severely wounded, one moderately and one slightly” when an improvised explosive device blew up along the border fence with Gaza.

None of the soldiers’ lives were in danger, a spokesman clarified.

In response Israeli forces said a tank quickly opened fire at an “observation post” in southern Gaza, causing no injuries on the Palestinian side.

Palestinian security sources said the explosion took place east of the city of Khan Yunis.

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