Some 53 people were killed and 53 were injured at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, after a Daesh terrorists seized hostages yesterday, prompting a police SWAT team to storm the venue, officials said.
Daesh's Amaq news agency said on Sunday that the terrorist group was responsible for the shooting at the nightclub.
"The armed attack that targeted a gay night club in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by a [Daesh] fighter," Amaq said.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told a news briefing that the shooter, identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida, used an assault rifle on all those killed. The NBC later reported that Mateen called 911 before shooting began and reportedly pledged allegiance to Daesh. The authorities are yet to comment.
The father of the suspected gunman said the attack "has nothing to do with religion," NBC News reported.
Mir Seddique told the broadcaster that his son Omar had become angered after seeing two men kissing in Miami several months ago.
"We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren't aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country," he is quoted by the network as saying.
Earlier Sunday Dyer said: "...It is with great sadness that I share we have not 20 but 50 casualties in addition to the shooter," raising the death toll from 20 previously.
The FBI is investigating the gay club shooting as an "act of terrorism," Obama said in a briefing on the incident.
Pulse Orlando had posted on their Facebook page around 2 a.m.: "Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running." Just before 6 a.m., the club posted an update: "As soon as we have any information we will update everyone. Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and love."
The incident follows the fatal shooting late Friday of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie, who was killed after her concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old Florida man who later killed himself. Grimmie was a YouTube sensation and former contestant on "The Voice."
Jon Alamo said he was at the back of one of the club's rooms when a man holding a weapon came into the front of the room. "I heard 20, 40, 50 shots," Alamo said. "The music stopped." Club-goer Rob Rick said it happened around 2 a.m., just before closing time. "Everybody was drinking their last sip," he said.
He estimated more than 100 people were still inside when he heard shots, got on the ground and crawled toward a DJ booth. A bouncer knocked down a partition between the club area and an area in the back where only workers are allowed. People inside were able to then escape through the back of the club. Christopher Hansen said he was in the VIP lounge when he started hearing gunshots.
"I was thinking, are you kidding me? So I just dropped down. I just said please, please, please, I want to make it out," he said. "And when I did, I saw people shot. I saw blood. You hope and pray you don't get shot."
He continued to hear shooting even after he emerged, where police were telling people to back away from the club. He saw injured people being tended to across the street. Mina Justice was outside the club trying to contact her 30-year-old son Eddie, who texted her when the shooting happened and asked her to call police. He told her he ran into a bathroom with other club patrons to hide. He then texted her: "He's coming." "The next text said: 'He has us, and he's in here with us,'" she said. "That was the last conversation."