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    Jun 14, 2016

    Orlando shooter one of its soldiers, says ISIS


    FAMILY and friends of at least a third of the 350 patrons trapped in Sunday morning's deadly shooting at Orlando's gay Pulse nightclub waited anxiously yesterday to find out the fate of their loved ones.

    Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) militant group called the United States-born gunman "one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America".

    Omar Mateen, 29, acknowledged his support for the Syria-based Isis when he called 911 after he started shooting in Pulse on Sunday, the USA Today quoted Orlando FBI chief Ron Hopper as saying.

    But according to Britain's Telegraph daily, Mateen - who killed 49 people and wounded 53 at Pulse - had been in contact with Moner Mohammed Abu Salha, America's first suicide bomber in Syria.

    The latter, who died in 2014, was a member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, which aims to establish an Islamist state in Syria but is not affiliated to Isis.

    The two were from the same town in Florida and prayed at the same mosque, according to the Telegraph.

    Mateen was also a member of the Timbuktu Seminary, an educational website run by radical Muslim cleric Marcus Robertson, reported Fox News.

    Mateen, who lived in St Lucie county about 126km south of Orlando with his Afghan parents, died in the shootout.

    He was an armed guard at a gated retirement community, and had worked for the global security firm G4S for nine years.

    Isis supporters have cheered the massacre online but there is no evidence that Isis directed or had prior knowledge of the attack, terrorism observers told American Broadcasting Company.

    There has been no evidence so far to suggest that Mateen received training or material support from Isis.

    Isis has targeted gay men for beatings and murder in the Middle East.

    Nearly 24 hours after the rampage ended, authorities had publicly named only 23 of the victims, half of whom were in their 20s, reported Reuters.

    Presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump, who has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US, said he was "right on radical Islamic terrorism" and called on President Barack Obama to resign as he did not say the words "radical Islam" in his statement in responding to the shooting.

    His Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton echoed Mr Obama's comments, saying that the massacre "reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets". AGENCIES