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Stephen Paddock named as Las Vegas gunman suspect

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Police have named Stephen Paddock as the suspected gunman who killed at least 50 people and hospitalised more than 400 others at a Las Vegas concert.

The 64-year-old, of Mesquite, Nevada, sprayed bullets at music-lovers as a gig by country singer Jason Aldean was ending on Sunday night, said officers.

The suspect opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

Paddock killed himself at the scene as officers closed in.

It is the deadliest shooting in modern US history, with the death toll surpassing the 49 killed at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016.

Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said investigators found “in excess of 10 rifles” in the hotel room that Paddock checked into on 28 September.

He said the suspect turned a gun on himself as police approached the suite.

“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Sheriff Lombardo added.

The sheriff was asked if there was any evidence the attack was related to terrorism.

“No, not at this point,” he replied.

So-called Islamic State later claimed to be behind the attack, saying that Paddock had converted to Islam some months ago.

But the group provided no evidence for this and has made unsubstantiated claims in the past.

Senior US officials discounted the group’s statement.

Audio recorded at the concert indicates Paddock may have used an automatic rifle in the attack on the crowd of 22,000 people.

He had no prior “derogatory” interactions with police, said Sheriff Lombardo, except for one citation several years ago which the sheriff declined to specify.

Investigators have searched his two-bedroom home, which is part of a retirement community about one hour from Las Vegas.

Quinn Averett of Mesquite Police said it was a “nice, clean home, nothing out of the ordinary”.

He added he believed there were some weapons and ammunition found inside.

Authorities earlier appealed for help in locating Paddock’s roommate, Marilou Danley.

But investigators later said she had been interviewed, and was “no longer being sought out as a person of interest”.

Ms Danley, 62, was not with him when he checked into the Mandalay, officers said.

Investigators said she had been traced outside of the US.

They said Paddock “was utilising some of her identification”.

Eric Paddock, the suspect’s brother, described her as the gunman’s “girlfriend”.

“It’s like an asteroid just fell on top of our family,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“There is no reason we can imagine why Stephen would do something like this,” he continued.

He told reporters his brother was “not an avid gun guy at all”.

“The fact that he had those kind of weapons is just… where the hell did he get automatic weapons?

“He has no military background or anything like that.

“He’s a guy that lived in a house in Mesquite, drove down and gambled in Las Vegas. He did stuff, eat burritos.”

In 2012, Paddock filed a negligence lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan resort in Las Vegas, after a fall caused by an “obstruction” on the floor, according to his brother.

The lawsuit was dropped by both parties in 2014.

Paddock had a licence to fly small planes, and owned two aircrafts, NBC reported.

 

Briefing Room

Singapore-flagged tanker attacked off Somalia but escapes

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AP — Mogadishu – An international anti-piracy force says a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker has exchanged fire with attackers off the coast of Somalia before escaping unharmed.

The European Union anti-piracy force says in a statement that the MT Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs early on Friday about 160 nautical miles off central Somalia. A private security team on the tanker fired warning shots and the skiffs turned away about 20 minutes later.

The Horn of Africa nation saw a brief resurgence of pirate attacks a year ago.

The EU statement says Friday’s attack is “likely to be piracy related” and is the first such attack since November.

The statement says the chemical tanker had been en route from Oman to Cape Town, South Africa.

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US military says drone strike in Somalia kills 4 extremists

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VOA — A U.S. drone strike has killed several al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, officials tell VOA.

Local sources said missiles fired Wednesday targeted a rickshaw carrying five al-Shabab militants near Jamaame, in the southern Lower Juba region.

“I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by U.S. drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground,” a Somali government official told VOA Somali on the condition of anonymity.

The attack was confirmed by witnesses and local residents, who also asked for anonymity because they feared militant reprisals.

Somali officials said they were investigating the identity of those targeted. Some sources said two of those in the rickshaw were civilians traveling with three militants.

A statement Thursday from the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out by the U.S. military “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.” The statement said the strike killed four terrorists and no civilians.

On Tuesday, local residents in the region reported another airstrike that destroyed an al-Shabab training camp in the nearby town of Jilib. That airstrike, also confirmed by U.S. Africa Command, killed three militants.

The U.S. military has carried out dozens of airstrikes against al-Shabab and Islamic State militants in support of Somalia’s federal government.

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U.S. military denies Al-Shabaab killed its soldier in Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — The United States military confirmed Tuesday no American soldier was killed or injured in southern Somalia as claimed by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which oversees American troops on the continent, dismissed the report as incorrect that the insurgents killed the American soldier on the outskirts of Kismayo during a gun fight early Tuesday.

“We are aware of the reports, but they are incorrect. No U.S military were killed or injured in Somalia, as alleged in the reports,” Africom spokesperson Samantha Reho told Xinhua.

The militants through their radio station, Andalus had reported that the American soldier was killed in a gun battle that took place outside Kismayo town on Tuesday morning.

The allegations came amid intensified security operation by the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) backed by Somalia National Army (SNA) on Al-Shabaab controlled areas in the Lower Shabelle region, destroying several militant bases, checkpoints and explosives including an FM station run by Al-Shabaab.

The allied forces have ramped up offensives against the militants as the African Union forces continue with the drawdown which started with 500 troops last December.

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