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27 killed in US church shooting, gunman identified

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Washington, Nov 6: A single shooter walked into an US church in Texas and opened fire, leaving at least 27 worshippers dead and over two dozens injured, media reports said.

The man responsible for the killing on Sunday has been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, New York Times said.

Kelley, 26, walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs just before noon and began firing, authorities said.

One of the victims shot, was a two-year-old child. Police told Channel KSAT12 that Kelly was dead. However, they did not specify the cause, Efe news reported.

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Sutherland Springs, with a population of about 400, is some 45 km southeast of San Antonio.

A heavy police presence, including Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)personnel, was reported at the crime scene.

The shooting took place during the Sunday morning mass. The 14-year-old daughter of the county pastor was also killed, the NYT report said.

County Commissioner Wilson Albert Gamez Jr. has confirmed the number of casualties. He also expressed fear that the number might rise.

Kelley was married and a resident of New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio, the Daily Beast reported.

Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety gave a brief timeline of events, the Guardian reported.

At around 11.20 a.m. the suspect (initially described as a white male in his early 20s), was seen at a gas station over the road from the church.

He was dressed all in black in tactical-style clothes including a ballistic vest.

He crossed the road and as he approached the church he began shooting, carrying on the firing as he entered the place of worship itself.

After the carnage, as he was leaving the church, he was engaged by a resident carrying a rifle. The shooter dropped his own weapon, a Ruger assault rifle, and fled.

He was pursued by police and just as he reached Guadalupe County his vehicle veered off the road. He was found in the car dead, it is not known whether by his own hand or having been shot by a local resident.

The church regularly posts its weekly services to its Youtube page, and investigators are now searching for video that could shed more light on what happened.

The scale of the shooting and its location has presented President Donald Trump with a renewed gun dilemma just as he embarked on a five-country tour in Asia.

In his opening response to the massacre, Trump tweeted: “May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI and law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.”

The violence comes just a month after the US’s worst-ever mass shooting – when Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor Las Vegas concert on October 1, killing 58 and injuring hundreds.

Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, who had proposed stricter gun control, said: “We grieve with all the families in Sutherland Springs harmed by this act of hatred. We’ll stand with the survivors as they recover. May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst.”

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Nepal, China sign 8 deals worth $2.24bn

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Beijing, June 20: Nepal and China on Wednesday signed eight agreements worth $2.4 billion on the second day of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s visit.

These agreements were reached between the two governments and private sectors where Chinese investors will put money on developing hydroelectricity, water resources, cement factories and fruit cultivation and farming.

The signing ceremony took place at the Nepal Embassy here.

Additional memorandum of understandings will be signed on Thursday after delegation-level talks between Oli and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

Oli, who arrived here on Monday on his five-day-visit, will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday afternoon at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

This is Oli’s first official visit to China after returning to power in February and second foreign trip after India.

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US withdraws from ‘biased’ UN Human Rights Council

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Washington, June 20: The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday. 

The US envoy Nikki Haley told the UN, the body is “hypocritical and self-serving” and “makes a mockery of human rights”.

Last year, Haley accused the council of “chronic anti-Israel bias” and said America was reviewing its membership, a BBC report said.

Constituted in 2006, the council invited flak for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to be members.

Following this United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regretted the Donald Trump’s administration decision.

“The Secretary-General would have much preferred for the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council,” reported Xinhua news agency quoting spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying in a note to correspondents.

“The UN’s human rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide,” the note said.

The move comes amid sharp criticism over the Trump administration’s policy of separating child migrants from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad has called the policy “unconscionable”.

Haley announced the US’s intention to exit the council at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

She described the council a “cesspool of political bias”, but stressed: “I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments.”

Last year, she told the council it was “hard to accept” that resolutions had been passed against Israel yet none had been considered for Venezuela, which at the time witnessed the killing of dozens of protesters during political turmoil.

Israel is the only nation that is subject to a permanent standing agenda item, meaning its treatment of the Palestinians is scrutinised at a regular basis.

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UN chief regrets as US exits ‘biased’ Human Rights Council

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, June 20: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regretted the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), said his spokesman on Tuesday.

“The Secretary-General would have much preferred for the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council,” reported Xinhua news agency quoting spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying in a note to correspondents.

“The UN’s human rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide,” the note read.

Earlier, announcing the country’s withdrawal from the UNHRC, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley described the body as “hypocritical and self-serving” and one that “makes a mockery of human rights”.

According to a BBC report, Haley last year accused the council of “chronic anti-Israel bias” and said the US was reviewing its membership.

Formed in 2006, the council has been criticised for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to be members.

The move comes amid intense criticism over the Trump administration’s policy of separating child migrants from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

UN human rights chief Zeid bin Ra’ad has called the policy “unconscionable”.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch also condemned separation of families, and called President Trump’s human rights policy “one-dimensional”.

Reacting to the US’ exit from the global rights body, Ra’ad said in Geneva that the US withdrawal is “disappointing, if not really surprising.”

“Given the state of human rights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back,” Zeid said.

Haley announced the US intention to quit the council at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

She called the council a “cesspool of political bias”, but stressed: “I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments.”

Last year, she told the Council it was “hard to accept” that resolutions had been passed against Israel yet none had been considered for Venezuela, which at the time saw dozens of protesters killed during political turmoil.

Israel is the only country that is subject to a permanent standing agenda item, meaning its treatment of the Palestinians is regularly scrutinised.

IANS

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