Fifty people are now known to have died in a shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the city’s mayor Buddy Dyer has said. Another 53 people were injured in the shooting. The gunman, named by officials as Omar Mateen, was killed after taking hostages at the Pulse club. The attack is the worst mass shooting in recent US history.
Officials said the killings were likely to be ideologically motivated, though there was no information that the gunman was associated with a particular group. But NBC News reported that Mateen called the emergency services before the attack and swore allegiance to the so-called Islamic State militant group. The group later said – via its affiliated Amaq news agency – that an IS “fighter” had carried out the attack.
President Barack Obama said Americans were united in grief, outrage and “resolve to defend our people” after “an act of terror and an act of hate”.
French President Francois Hollande expressed “horror” at the killings, and said Americans had the “full support of France” in this “difficult time”.
Pope Francis condemned the “homicidal folly” of the shooting.
The death toll of 50 given by Mayor Dyer means that the Orlando attack surpasses the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech which left 32 people dead.
The gunman who opened fire at a gay Florida nightclub early Sunday, 12th June, shooting over 100 people, had called 911 moments before to pledge allegiance to the leader of ISIS, law enforcement sources told NBC News.
The shooter as Mateen, who was born in New York and lived in Port St. Lucie on Florida’s eastern shores. Due to his job as a security officer, he had access to federal buildings. Mateen was previously investigated by the FBI three years ago for terrorist ties.
Donald Trump, Republican Nominee reacts
The US Republican nominee in his Facebook account said ” Horrific incident in Orlando, Florida. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant? Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace! ”
Hillary Clinton Comes In:
The democratic Nominee for US President wrote in her Facebook ” I join Americans in praying for the victims of the attack in Orlando, their families and the first responders who did everything they could to save lives.This was an act of terror. This was also an act of hate. The gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month. To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.Finally, we need to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals. This is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and it reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets. This is a time to stand together and resolve to do everything we can to defend our communities and country”