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Worst mass shootings in US history
by Reuters, agencies
12 June 2016
At least 50 people have been killed and another 53 injured after a heavily armed gunman opened fire and seized hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police say, in the worst mass shooting in US history.
The shooter was identified as Omar Mateen, 29, who called 911 on Sunday morning and made comments saying he supported the Islamic State (IS) militant group, officials said.
But US officials cautioned they had no conclusive evidence of any direct connection with IS or any other foreign extremist group.
Mateen was born to Afghan parents in 1986 and lived in Port St Lucie, Florida, about two hours drive from Orlando.
He worked as an armed guard for security firm G4S and was carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a handgun when he walked into the Pulse nightclub and opened fire.
The suspect''s father told NBC news his son may have been motivated by homophobia and not by his Muslim faith. "This had nothing to do with religion," Mir Seddique told the network, recalling a recent incident in downtown Miami.
"He saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and kid and he got very angry," the father said, apologising to the victims.
His former wife, who left him in 2011 fearing for her life, said he was a violently abusive man who wanted to be a police officer.
Sitora Yusufiy, said he had trained with his friends, who were police officers, and had a licence to have a gun. "He wanted to be a police officer. He applied to the police academy. He worked as a correctional officer at a juvenile delinquent centre so he was working up and gaining experience to become an officer," she said.
Ms Yusufiy said she had not had any contact with Mateen in years, after she left him in 2011 fearing for her life.
"He was very short-tempered and he would often get into fights and arguments with his parents. But because I was the only one in his life, most of the violence was towards me at that time."
"He was not a stable person," she said. "He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn''t finished or something like that."
US President Barack Obama expressed heartbreak at the "horrific massacre", branding it an act of terror and hate.
"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," Mr Obama said, later ordering flags at half-staff as an act of mourning. "As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage and in resolve to defend our people."


UN inquiry finds crimes against humanity in Eritrea
by Mike Smith
UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea
Geneva (8 June 2016)
Crimes against humanity have been committed in a widespread and systematic manner in Eritrean detention facilities, military training camps and other locations across the country over the past 25 years, according to a new report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, released Wednesday.
Crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, persecution, rape, murder and other inhumane acts have been committed as part of a campaign to instil fear in, deter opposition from and ultimately to control the Eritrean civilian population since Eritrean authorities took control of Eritrean territory in 1991, the report says.
“Eritrea is an authoritarian State. There is no independent judiciary, no national assembly and there are no other democratic institutions in Eritrea. This has created a governance and rule of law vacuum, resulting in a climate of impunity for crimes against humanity to be perpetrated over a quarter of a century. These crimes are still occurring today,” said Mike Smith, chair of the Commission of Inquiry.
“There is no genuine prospect of the Eritrean judicial system holding perpetrators to account in a fair and transparent manner. The perpetrators of these crimes must face justice and the victims’ voices must be heard. The international community should now take steps, including using the International Criminal Court, national courts and other available mechanisms to ensure there is accountability for the atrocities being committed in Eritrea,” said Smith.
The report highlights that “Eritreans also continue to be subjected to indefinite national service, arbitrary detention, reprisals for the alleged conduct of family members, discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds, sexual and gender-based violence and killings.”
The indefinite duration of military and national service programmes are frequently cited by Eritreans as the main reason for fleeing the country. In 2015, 47,025 Eritreans applied for asylum in Europe, many making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in unsafe boats, exploited by smugglers in search of safety.
In addition, the report notes that no improvement was found in the human rights situation documented in Eritrea during the first Commission of Inquiry report published in June 2015.
The report identifies that “particular individuals, including officials at the highest levels of State, the ruling party – the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice – and commanding officers bear responsibility for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations.”
The report further states that “the National Security Office is responsible for most cases of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and torture in official and unofficial detention centres.”
Dossiers of evidence have been compiled on a number of individuals the Commission has reasonable grounds to believe bear responsibility for crimes against humanity. This evidence will be made available at the appropriate time to relevant institutions, including courts of law, following strict witness protection requirements, to ensure there is justice for the Eritrean people.

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