Shock, condemnation at Orlando massacre across the world

Orlando, June 13 (IANS) Shock and condemnation flowed from across the world over the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando city of Florida which left 50 people dead and 53 injured.

Mourning for those killed and showing solidarity with the gay community, several cities across the US as well as world leaders paid tribute to the victims of the attack.

New York’s famed Empire State building went dark late Sunday night while the spire of One World Trade Centre lit up in the colours of the gay pride flag in memory of the victims of the massacre.

Afghan-origin US national Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce in Florida, opened gunfire and sprayed bullets inside the packed Pulse club, which describes itself as “the hottest gay bar”, about 2 a.m. on Sunday. It was the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

The Islamic State terrorist group said it was behind the attack since Mateen in a call to police pledged allegiance to the IS, but the extent of its involvement is not clear.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said all flags would be flown at half-mast in the largest US city in the wake of the attack.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris will on Monday night lit up in the US colours of red, white and blue in solidarity with the victims of the attack.

Paris City Hall will also raise the stars and stripes and the rainbow flag of the gay community, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced, expressing her “compassion, solidarity and affection” for the US people.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and British Prime Minister David Cameron have condemned the “horrific attack”.

The secretary-general “extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and expresses solidarity with the government and people of the US,” a statement said.

Cameron said: “I’m horrified by reports of the overnight shooting in Orlando. My thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

Philip Hammond, the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, tweeted: “Shocked by shooting in Orlando.”

Hammond noted that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was in contact with local authorities.

US President Barack Obama described the tragedy an “act of terror”.

“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.

“It appeared he was organised and well-prepared,” said Orlando Police Chief John Mina about the lone wolf attacker Mateen at an earlier press conference.

The Islamic State-linked news agency, Amaq, said the attack was carried out by an IS fighter.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee also expressed shock and sadness over the deadly attack “against innocent civilians”.

In a message to Obama on Monday, Mukherjee said: “I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the deadly attack against innocent civilians in Orlando. I offer my deepest sympathies to all those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy.”

He said India condemns terrorism in “all its forms and manifestations” and there can be no justification for such senseless acts of violence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on an official visit to the US barely days ago on June 7-8, expressed shock over the attack. He said: “Shocked at the shootout in Orlando. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families and the injured.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday called Obama to offer condolences over the shooting in Orlando.

“Xi expressed deep sympathy and sincere condolences to Obama, the US government and the US people. He also expressed grief to the victims of the terror attack,” a statement said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemning the attack said: “I unequivocally condemn the horrific attack in Orlando. Nothing can justify killing of civilians.”

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said: “The attack tells terrorism knows no religion, race, boundary and geography. It must be eliminated.”

–IANS

py/rn/vt

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