Ve­gas gun­man may have scoped out other mu­sic fes­ti­vals

The Barrie Examiner - - WORLD - AB­DUL SAT­TAR THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS Pak­istani wor­ship­pers sit out­side a shrine af­ter a bomb blast in Jhal Magsi, about 400 km east of Quetta, Pak­istan, on Thurs­day. A sui­cide bomber struck a Shi­ite shrine packed with wor­ship­pers in a re­mote vil­lage in south

QUETTA, Pak­istan — A sui­cide bomber struck a Shi­ite shrine packed with wor­ship­pers in a re­mote vil­lage in south­west­ern Pak­istan on Thurs­day, killing 20 peo­ple and leav­ing at least 25 wounded, a pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment spokesman and the po­lice said.

Within hours, the Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack.

The bomber det­o­nated his ex­plo­sives vest when he was stopped for a rou­tine search by a po­lice of­fi­cer guard­ing the shrine in the vil­lage of Jhal Masgi, about 400 km east of Quetta, the cap­i­tal of Baluchis­tan prov­ince.

An­warul Haq Kakar, spokesman for the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, said the death toll could rise fur­ther as some of the wounded re­mained in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

Mo­ham­mad Iqbal, a district po­lice chief, said five chil­dren, a woman and one po­lice of­fi­cer were among those 20 peo­ple killed in the bomb­ing. He said they found body parts of the at­tacker and in­ves­ti­ga­tors were try­ing to de­ter­mine who was be­hind the bomb­ing.

Sar­fraz Bugti, the pro­vin­cial home min­is­ter, said “ter­ror­ists have shown their in­hu­mane­ness by at­tack­ing in­no­cent civil­ians” at the shrine.

Atif Ali Shah, the cus­to­dian of the shrine, told re­porters that had the at­tacker man­aged to en­ter the shrine, there would have been many more ca­su­al­ties. The po­lice of­fi­cer who stopped the bomber and other guards who rushed to the scene “saved many lives,” he said.

Hun­dreds of devo­tees were present at the shrine for a monthly gath­er­ing when the bomber hit. Lo­cal TV footage showed peo­ple cry­ing for help in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the at­tack.

Just hours ear­lier, Pak­istani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said the mil­i­tary had re­ceived cred­i­ble re­ports of up­com­ing ter­ror at­tacks. Ghafoor told a news con­fer­ence in the gar­ri­son city of Rawalpindi that the gov­ern­ment has been alerted about pos­si­ble at­tacks.

The claim by the IS af­fil­i­ate in Pak­istan came later Thurs­day, in a state­ment posted on the Is­lamic State-linked Aa­maq news agency.

IS and other Sunni ex­trem­ists per­ceive Shi­ites as apos­tates who should be killed and have car­ried out many such at­tacks in the past, tar­get­ing mi­nor­ity Shi­ite Mus­lims in Baluchis­tan and else­where in the coun­try.

Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi con­demned the at­tack, say­ing that “ter­ror­ists have no re­li­gion” and that his gov­ern­ment will act against mil­i­tants with full might.

In June, at least 75 Shi­ite Mus­lims were killed in twin bomb­ings at a mar­ket in Parachi­nar in the coun­try’s north­west. At the time, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sec­tar­ian Sunni ex­trem­ist group, claimed the bomb­ings in Parachi­nar, which is a ma­jor­ity Shi­ite town.

In Fe­bru­ary, an Is­lamic State sui­cide bomber struck in­side a famed Sufi shrine in south­ern Sindh prov­ince, killing 88 wor­ship­pers as they per­formed a de­vo­tional dance known as “dhamal.”

Baluchis­tan, which shares a bor­der with Sindh prov­ince, has also been the scene of a low-level in­sur­gency by Baluch na­tion­al­ists and sep­a­ratists de­mand­ing more au­ton­omy and a greater share in the re­gion’s nat­u­ral re­sources such as gas and oil. How­ever, Is­lamic mil­i­tants have also car­ried out scores of at­tacks in the prov­ince.

LAS VE­GAS — In­ves­ti­ga­tors are look­ing into whether gun­man Stephen Pad­dock scoped out big­ger mu­sic fes­ti­vals in Las Ve­gas and Chicago be­fore set­ting up his perch in a casino ho­tel and rain­ing deadly fire on coun­try mu­sic fans.

Pad­dock rented rooms over­look­ing the Lol­la­palooza fes­ti­val in Chicago in Au­gust and the Life Is Beau­ti­ful show in late Septem­ber near the Ve­gas Strip, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties re­con­struct­ing his move­ments be­fore he un­der­took the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in mod­ern U.S. his­tory.

It was not clear if he aborted plans to carry out mas­sacres at those events.

The de­tails came to light as in­ves­ti­ga­tors strug­gled to fig­ure out why the high-stakes gam­bler opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 Sun­day night from the 32nd floor of the Man­dalay Bay ho­tel casino. He killed 59 peo­ple and in­jured nearly 500 be­fore tak­ing his own life.

Au­thor­i­ties have been comb­ing through his back­ground but re­main stumped as to his mo­tive.

The pro­file de­vel­oped so far is of a

NIAMEY, Niger — Three U.S. Army spe­cial op­er­a­tions com­man­dos and one “part­ner na­tion” mem­ber were killed in an at­tack in Niger’s south­west while the U.S. was pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to se­cu­rity force counter-ter­ror op­er­a­tions, U.S. Africa Com­mand said Thurs­day.

U.S. of­fi­cials did not spec­ify the na­tion­al­ity of the fourth sol­dier killed but said that two other U.S. ser­vice mem­bers were wounded in Wed­nes­day’s at­tack about 200 km north of Niger’s cap­i­tal, Niamey, near its bor­der with Mali.

Niger’s Pres­i­dent Ma­hamadou “dis­turbe­dand­dan­ger­ous”man­who ac­quired an arse­nal over decades, Sher­iff Joseph Lom­bardo said. But in­ves­ti­ga­tors have been frus­trated to find that he lived a “se­cret life,” Lom­bardo said, “much of which will never be fully un­der­stood.”

The coro­ner’s of­fice in Las Ve­gas would not re­lease de­tails of its au­topsy on Pad­dock. Some be­havioural ex­perts have won­dered whether the 64-year-old Pad­dock suf­fered from some kind of brain ab­nor­mal­ity or had a ter­mi­nal ill­ness that prompted him to lash out.

The week­end be­fore the mas­sacre, he rented a room through Airbnb at the 21-story Og­den con­do­mini­ums in down­town Las Ve­gas and stayed there dur­ing a mu­sic fes­ti­val be­low that in­cluded Chance the Rap­per, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182.

“Rea­sons that ran through Pad­dock’s mind is un­known, but it was di­rectly at the same time as Life Is Beau­ti­ful,” the sher­iff said.

Po­lice were re­view­ing video shot at the high-rise to check Pad­dock’s move­ments. His rent­ing the condo was cu­ri­ous be­cause as a high-roller, he could have eas­ily got­ten a free room at one of the casino ho­tels on the Ve­gas Strip. Is­soufou said sev­eral Niger sol­diers died in the at­tack, which he said was car­ried out by Mali-based Is­lamic ex­trem­ists.

Is­lamic ex­trem­ist groups, in­clud­ing al- Qaida in the Is­lamic Maghreb, op­er­ate in the re­gion and spo­rad­i­cally launch cross-bor­der raids. De­spite the in­ter­ven­tion of French troops in 2013 that pushed the ex­trem­ists from their strongholds in north­ern Mali, they con­tinue at­tacks.

Boko Haram, based south in Nige­ria, has also staged sev­eral at­tacks in Niger. The As­so­ci­ated Press

AB­DUL HAMEED/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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