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Pope 'saddened' by 'senseless' Las Vegas shootings

Vatican, Oct 2 (IANS/AKI) Pope Francis is praying for the victims of the deadly mass shootings in Las Vegas and was “deeply saddened” to learn of the “senseless tragedy” which killed over 50 people and wounded over 400, Vatican Radio reported on Monday.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas,” Vatican Radio cited a telegram sent on behalf of the pontiff to the Bishop of Las Vegas, Joseph Anthony Pepe, by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin

“Pope Francis sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy,” the telegram continued, praising the response of police and emergency services and promising his prayers.

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed Sunday’s attack in Las Vegas, which has been described as the deadliest mass shooting in recent United States history.

In a statement carried by its Amaq news agency on Monday, IS said the gunman converted to Islam in recent months and staged the attack in response to its calls to target countries taking part in the US-led military coalition against the group.

The gunman, identified by US police as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock – a Nevada resident – died at the scene. Police said he fired from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Strip casino hotel onto an outdoor country music festival on Sunday night.

Police were on Monday interviewing Paddock’s relatives and neighbours in a bid to uncover what may have triggered the shooting spree.

Paddock, who was retired, had no police record, or known political or religious affiliations, according to officials.

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