An ‘Islamic extremist’ has attacked a nightclub in Florida, killing at least 20 people and injuring over 40.The gunman opened fire in gay club Pulse before exchanging fire with the first responding police officer. He then returned to the venue and took hostages, which has resulted in several fatalities. The incident is now being treated as a “mass casualty situation”, indicating a high number of people may have been killed or injured.
The FBI indicated the shooter had “leanings to radical Islamic terrorism” and the Orlando sheriff is treating the incident as a “domestic terrorism incident.” John Mina, Orlando police chief, said: “Multiple people are dead inside Pulse nightclub. At least 42 people have been transported to various hosptitals.”
The gunman is believed to have taken hostages in the club, with one reveller texting his mother: “He has us, he’s in here with us.” She has not had any contact with him since. The club’s management posted on Twitter: “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.”
The Orlando Fire Department has called its bomb and hazardous materials squad to the scene, amid concerns one gunman was “wearing a bomb”. A controlled explosion was carried out by police at around 10am GMT. Police report the shooter inside the club is now dead.