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Archive for October, 2017

A massive bomb attack in a busy area of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday is now known to have killed at least 230 people, police say.

Hundreds more were wounded when a lorry packed with explosives detonated near the entrance of a hotel.

It is the deadliest terror attack in Somalia since the Islamist al-Shabab group launched its insurgency in 2007.

It is not clear who staged the bombing, but Mogadishu is a target for al-Shabab militants battling the government.

President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the blast.

Local media reported families gathering in the area on Sunday morning, looking for missing loved ones amid the ruins of one of the largest bombs ever to strike the city.

There are fears people are trapped under the rubble

A BBC Somali reporter at the scene of the main blast said the Safari Hotel had collapsed, with people trapped under the rubble.

An eyewitness, local resident Muhidin Ali, told news agency AFP it was “the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area”.

Meanwhile, the director of the Madina Hospital, Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, said he was shocked by the scale of the attack.

“Seventy-two wounded people were admitted to the hospital and 25 of them are in very serious condition. Others lost their hands and legs at the scene.

“What happened yesterday was incredible, I have never seen such a thing before, and countless people lost their lives. Corpses were burned beyond recognition.”

The death toll continues to rise after the deadly blast

The international community has been quick to condemn the attack.

In a statement, the US Mission to Somalia said: “Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “My thoughts are with families of the victims, and the government and people of Somalia at this difficult time.

“Those responsible have shown no regard for human life or the suffering of the Somali people. The UK will continue to support Somalia in the fight against terrorism.”

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At least 58 people were killed and 500 injured when a heavily armed ‘lone wolf’ gunman opened fire from a 32-floor hotel room on an open-air concert on the Las Vegas Strip in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 01: People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was hear on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

The IS group claimed the 64-year-old Nevada man behind the Sunday night massacre, Stephen Craig Paddock, was one of its “soldiers” but the FBI said it had found no such connection so far.

Police said Paddock, a retired accountant, killed himself before a SWAT team breached his room in the Mandalay Bay hotel overlooking the venue for the country music concert.

President Donald Trump denounced what he called “an act of pure evil” and said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday.

This undated photo provided by Eric Paddock shows him (left) with his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock (right) (AAP)

Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters at least eight rifles had been recovered from the gunman’s hotel room.

Paddock was believed to be a “lone wolf” assailant who acted alone, Lombardo said, declining to speculate as to what may have motivated the attack.

Who is the Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock?

The 64-year-old had a home in a tranquil golf course retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of the gambling hub and, according to a brother, showed no sign he was poised to commit mass murder.

The Islamic State Group said the worst mass shooting in recent US history was perpetrated by one of its “soldiers,” claiming that Paddock had converted to Islam in recent weeks and carried out the attack in its name.

But the FBI said they saw “no connection” between Paddock and international terror groups, and a stunned nation remained at a loss to understand the motive for the Sunday night massacre, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured.

“I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point,” he said.

Lombardo said Paddock had apparently used a hammer to smash the window of his hotel room before opening fire on the crowd below.

Police said around 22,000 people were attending the concert when bursts of automatic gunfire erupted shortly after 10:00 pm (0500 GMT).

Concert-goers screamed and fled in panic as a steady stream of bullets rained down from the hotel.

58 dead, 515 injured

Lombardo said 58 people had been confirmed dead and 515 injured and he said the toll could rise. The authorities issued an appeal for blood donors.

IS said one of its “soldiers” who had “converted to Islam several months ago” was behind the shooting but provided no evidence to back up the claim.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it has found no such link so far.

“As this event unfolds we have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group,” said Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the Las Vegas office of the FBI.

Paddock, who photographs showed as greying with a trimmed beard and moustache, was a former accountant and a licensed private pilot with no criminal record, according to ABC News.

Eric Paddock, the gunman’s brother, said he was at a complete loss to understand what may have motivated the shooting.

“This is an asteroid falling out of the sky,” Eric Paddock told CBS News.

He said his brother had “no religious affiliation, no political affiliation.”

“He was my brother. He was a guy. He gambled,” Eric Paddock said.

He said his brother had no history of mental illness and was “not an avid gun guy at all.”

Paddock resided in a new golf course development in the desert just outside Mesquite, Nevada, 80 miles northeast (130 kilometers) of Las Vegas.

‘Pretty much like a war scene’

Witnesses said Paddock opened fire with an initial long burst of gunfire, and then appeared to reload as he continued his spree.

“We heard (what) sounded like a glass breaking, so you looked around to see what’s going on and then heard a pop, pop, pop,” Monique Dekerf told CNN.

“You’d think for a moment okay we’re fine, there’s no more gunfire, then it starts again.”

Country music star Jason Aldean was on stage and near the end of his concert when the shooting began.

Aldean initially carried on playing when the first crackle of gunfire could be heard but then hurried off the stage.

Robert Hayes, a firefighter from Los Angeles who was in front of the stage, said he first thought the shots were some kind of equipment malfunction.

Once he realised what was going on, he joined the first responders, donning one of their vests.

“Honestly I probably pronounced 15-20 people” dead, he told Fox News. “It was pretty much like a war scene inside.”

Emergency crews used anything to hand as makeshift stretchers, including tables and metal railings normally used to control the crowds, said Hayes.

Asked if he thought it was an inexperienced gunman, he responded: “With 30,000 people in the arena area, it was kind of like shooting goldfish … He didn’t have to be good.”

Broken windows are seen on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino after a lone gunman opened fired (Getty)

‘Beyond horrific’

The Las Vegas attack is the deadliest shooting in recent US history, exceeding the toll of 49 dead in an attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June 2016.

It was also the latest in a series of recent deadly attacks at concert venues.

Twenty-two people were killed while leaving an Ariana Grande concert in the northern English city of Manchester in May when a suicide bomber detonated a nail bomb in the foyer.

Ninety people were killed in November 2015 at the Bataclan venue in Paris during a concert by US band the Eagles of Death Metal.

A shocked Aldean told his fans via Instagram that he and his band was safe.

“Tonight has been beyond horrific,” the singer wrote.

“It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”

Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened” by the “senseless tragedy” while Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May called it an “appalling attack.”

Henry Sapiecha

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