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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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Japanese PM Shinzo Abe wins 3rd consecutive term as ruling party president

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Tokyo, Sep 20: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won the ruling Liberal Democratic Partys (LDP) leadership election on Thursday, securing a historic third term that will effectively extend his time in power by another three years.

Abe comfortably beat his only contender, former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba, by securing 553 out of a total 807 votes, reports The Japan Times.

He won 329 out of the 402 valid ballots cast by LDP MPs and 224 out of the remaining 405 votes allocated to party branches in each prefecture based on the number of members age 18 or older who have paid party fees.

His extended term in office signals the possibility that Abe, who has already been at the helm of the world’s third-largest economy for nearly six years in his second stint as Prime Minister, may become the longest-serving premier in Japanese history.

With his renewed leadership, Abe is likely to reshuffle his Cabinet in the coming weeks, reportedly as soon as early October.

Abe has credited himself with “restoring a decent economy” under his Abenomics policy and taking the Japan-US alliance to a stronger level.

He also repeated that it’s the “responsibility of the LDP” to revise the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution to formalise the ambiguous status of the Self-Defense Forces – the nation’s de facto military – which he said “protects the peace and independence of Japan”.

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Donald Trump visits areas affected by Florence, promises residents aid

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Washington, Sep 20: President Donald Trump on Wednesday visited the two states most heavily affected by Hurricane Florence and promised that “a lot of money” will be coming from Washington and significant resources will be invested in reconstruction in the region, although he also sparked controversy by expressing interest in an area where he owns a golf course.

Trump travelled to North and South Carolina, which were deluged last week by a storm that killed at least 36 people in the region, forced the evacuation of thousands and caused economic damage valued at up to $60 billion, according to preliminary estimates, Efe reported.

“To the families who have lost loved ones, America grieves with you, and our hearts break for you. God bless you,” the president said in a statement.

“We will never forget your loss. We will never leave your side. We’re with you all way. And to all those impacted by this terrible storm, our entire American family is with you and ready to help. And you will recover,” he added.

The president, who last year visited Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico after the passage of several hurricanes, repeated several activities that he had undertaken there, distributing hot dogs and other food to people forced from their homes and chatting with some of those affected.

During one stop in the coastal town of New Bern, North Carolina, where heavy flooding damaged more than 4,300 homes, Trump was surprised to see a yacht that had been washed against the back porch of a home.

“Is this your boat?” the president asked the homeowner, and when the owner said no, Trump reportedly smiled and replied, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

Although the president avoided mistakes such as he made last year in Puerto Rico, where he downplayed the tragedy and said that Hurricane Maria had not been a “real catastrophe,” he did spark some criticism by taking advantage of his trip to visit Navy installations in North Carolina to ask about the condition of Lake Norman.

“I love that area. I can’t tell you why, but I love that area,” said Trump, avoiding mentioning that one of his golf courses, Trump National Golf Club, is located on the shore of Lake Norman, near Charlotte.

Trump also had a sober warning for South Carolina, whose authorities still fear significant additional damage due to flooding caused by Florence.

The president said at the emergency centre in the town of Conway that the help that local residents had seen is “nothing” compared to what will be arriving soon.

South Carolina’s Republican governor, Henry McMaster, said that “the worst is yet to come,” and predicted that the floodwaters could reach some five feet in height, adding that the storm and its aftermath could be the worst disaster ever to hit South Carolina.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, about 10,000 people are still being housed in shelters and “thousands” of people have not had the power restored in their homes, the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, said in his meeting with Trump.

Of the 36 people confirmed dead in the storm by local authorities, 27 died in North Carolina, eight in South Carolina and one in Virginia.

Crops of cotton and peanuts in those states have also suffered and 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 hogs drowned on North Carolina farms, according to official calculations.

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Avenfield case: Pakistan court orders release of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam

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Islamabad, Sep 19: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday suspended the jail terms of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield case.

Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb gave the ruling on petitions filed by the three challenging the July verdict against them, Geo News reported.

Justice Minallah quashed the sentences handed to them by Accountability Court judge Mohammad Bashir.

Sharif, Maryam and Safdar had been awarded imprisonment of 11 years, eight years and one year respectively for owning London properties disproportionate to their sources of income.

Delivering the judgement, the judges also asked the three to submit bail bonds worth Rs 0.5 million each.

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