Vegas gunman may have scoped out other music festivals
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