European gay venues warned to 'redouble' security after 50 killed in America's worst-ever mass shooting
Gay groups and venues across Europe were warned last night to "redouble" their security after an Isil fanatic shot dead more than 50 people in America's worst-ever mass shooting.
Omar Mateen (29) burst into Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, at 2am yesterday armed with an assault rifle.
He took more than 100 people hostage before being shot by police after a three-hour stand-off. Mateen reportedly called 911 moments before opening fire and pledged allegiance to Isil.
The terrorist group last night claimed responsibility for the outrage. The FBI called it an "act of terrorism" and was urgently investigating Mateen's apparent ties to Islamist extremism.
President Barack Obama said Americans were united in grief, outrage and "resolve to defend our people" after "an act of terror and an act of hate".
- Read more: 50 killed in gay nightclub in worst mass shooting in US history
- Read more: Orlando shooting: 'He's rounded us up and he's going to kill us all' - witnesses speak of horror after shooting and hostage stand-off at Florida gay nightclub
Mateen's father said his son, a US citizen of Afghan descent, may have targeted the gay community after becoming angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami some months ago.
There were fears that it could signal a move by the terror group or its supporters to target lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities around the world. It has long targeted these groups in Iraq and Syria.
It came as police in Los Angeles arrested a man with suspected explosives and assault rifles amid fears he planned to target the city's Gay Pride festival.
With Gay Pride festivals set to take place throughout the summer, gay rights activists urged gay organisations and venues to review and strengthen their security arrangements in the US and other Western countries.
- Read more: Isil claims most deadly shooting in history of USA
- Read more: Gunman had been investigated and cleared by FBI on two occasions
Mateen, from Port St Lucie in Florida, worked as a security guard in nearby Fort Pierce and reportedly had a Statewide Firearms Licence. It emerged the father-of-one was a "known quantity" to the FBI and had been investigated twice before, in 2013 and 2014.
Congressman Adam Schiff, of the House Intelligence Committee, said: "The fact that this shooting took place during Ramadan and that Isil leadership in Raqqa has been urging attacks during this time, that the target was an LGBT nightclub during Pride, and - if accurate - that according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to Isil, indicates an Isil-inspired act of terrorism."
The Vatican said Pope Francis expressed the "deepest feelings of horror and condemnation" over the massacre.
President Michael D Higgins also extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the massacre.
"Irish people will want to join with so many others who are horrified and deeply saddened to learn of the shootings in Orlando which have resulted in such loss of life and injury.
"As President of Ireland I wish to express my sincerest condolences to the families of all those bereaved and affected by this tragedy," he said.
"Our thoughts are with the people of Florida and the community in Orlando and Orange County at this difficult time. The loss of innocent life on such a horrendous scale is truly shocking and challenges us all," he added.
"I have spoken to [US] Ambassador O'Malley and personally conveyed my deepest sympathy and our nation's solidarity with the people of the United States at this time."