At least 22 people have been killed and up to 60 more injured as police continue the hunt for an active shooter in Lewiston, Maine.
Police have identified 40-year-old Robert Card as a person of interest in the attack, which took place across multiple downtown locations, and said he should be considered “armed and dangerous”.
Hundreds of police are searching the city of Lewiston and surrounding areas of Maine state for the perpetrator of mass shootings at a bar and a bowling alley. President Joe Biden has offered federal support in the wake of the “horrific” attack and spoken to several Maine lawmakers, the White House said.
Pictures released by the sheriff’s office from one of Wednesday’s crime scenes showed a bearded man in a brown hoodie and jeans, holding a weapon in the firing position.
“We have literally hundreds of police officers working around the state of Maine to investigate this case to locate Mr Card, who is a person of interest,” Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck told a news conference.
A Maine law enforcement bulletin identified Card as a trained firearms instructor and member of the US Army reserve who recently reported that he had mental health issues, including hearing voices. It also said he threatened to shoot up a National Guard base.
“Card was also reported to have been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks during summer 2023 and subsequently released,” said the notice from the Maine Information & Analysis Center.
As the manhunt widened, Maine State Police issued a shelter-in-place order in the city of Lisbon after they located “a vehicle of interest” in the area.
The Central Maine Medical Center issued a statement online saying it was responding to a “mass casualty” event, but did not share details on the precise number of those injured.
“Central Maine Healthcare is coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients,” the statement read.
Describing the scene, Melinda Small, the owner of Legends Sports Bar and Grill, said her staff immediately locked their doors and moved all 25 customers and employees away from the doors after a customer reported hearing about the shooting at the bowling alley less than a quarter-mile away around 7pm.
Soon, the police flooded the roadway and a police officer eventually escorted everyone out of the building four at a time. Everyone in the bar is safe.“I am honestly in a state of shock. I am blessed that my team responded quickly and everyone is safe,” Ms Small said.
“But the same time, my heart is broken for this area and for what everyone is dealing with. I just feel numb.”
The alert for Lewiston was made shortly after 8pm as the sheriff’s office reported that law enforcement agencies were investigating “two active shooter events.”
Officials issued an update around 10pm for what they described as a manhunt.
“Avoid the area until authorities give the all-clear,” the statement said.
“Seek alternative routes to circumvent the area and any disruptions. If already operating in the affected region, adhere to all instructions issued by local officials, including the shelter-in-place order.”
“We are encouraging all businesses to lock down and or close while we investigate,” the sheriff’s office reported.
34 declared wanted over attempted coup in Sierra Leone
The 34 persons whose pictures were released by the Sierra Leone police are wanted for questioning over their roles in the attempted coup that started with an attack on the armoury at the Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown.
The 34 wanted persons include military officers and civilians including two females.
The attempted coup was the second in the country, following a disputed presidential election that returned incumbent President, Julius Mada Bio, to power for a second term in office.
The first attempted coup happened about three months ago following a disputed presidential election in June.
Eight countries in West and Central Africa are under military rule after a series of coups, including Guinea.
However, the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, and regional block, Economic Community of West African States have released statements strongly condemning Sunday’s violence.
Sierra Leone declares curfew after gunmen attacked the main military barracks and detention centers
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Several gunmen attacked major detention centers in the Sierra Leonean capital city on Sunday and freed or abducted inmates, moments after targeting the country’s main military barracks, a government spokesman said.
The detention centers, including the Pademba Road Prisons — holding more than 2,000 inmates — were attacked just as security forces fought to restore calm during sustained shootouts at the military barracks, according to Information Minister Chernor Bah.
“The prisons were overrun (and) some prisoners were abducted by the assailants while many others were released,” Bah said. Security forces managed to “push back” the assailants to the outskirts of the city where fighting continues, he added.
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio earlier declared a nationwide curfew in response to the attacks.
The unidentified gunmen attacked the military armory within the Wilberforce barracks in the capital, Freetown, early in the morning, President Julius Maada Bio tweeted, adding that they were driven back by security forces and “calm has been restored.”
“As the combined team of our Security Forces continue to root out the remnant of the fleeing renegades, a nationwide curfew has been declared and citizens are encouraged to stay indoors,” he said.
The country’s Ministry of Information and Education also said in a statement that t he government and security forces are “in control” of the situation, trying to dismiss fears of a possible escalation of violence in the country whose population of 8 million people is among the poorest in the world, having some of the lowest scores on the U.N. Human Development Index.
An Associated Press journalist in the capital said that gunshots were still heard in the city hours after the government assured that the situation was under control, although it wasn’t clear who was behind the exchange of fire, nor if any arrests were made.
No details have been immediately given about the gunmen or the reason for the attack, which comes months after Bio was reelected for a second term in a disputed vote in which the main opposition party accused the electoral commission of rigging the results.
Videos posted online showed soldiers patrolling Freetown’s empty streets and captured the loud blasts of gunshots at dawn. The AP couldn’t immediately verify the authenticity of the videos.
West Africa’s regional economic bloc ECOWAS — of which Sierra Leone is a member — described the incident as a plot “to acquire arms and disturb the peace and constitutional order” in the country. The bloc has in recent months tried to reverse the surge in coups in West and Central Africa, which has recorded eight military takeovers since 2020, the latest in Niger and Gabon this year.
“ECOWAS reiterates its zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government,” the bloc said in a statement.
Bio was reelected in Sierra Leone’s fifth presidential election since the end of a brutal 11-year civil war — more than two decades ago — which left tens of thousands of people dead and destroyed the country’s economy.
He continues to face criticism because of debilitating economic conditions. Nearly 60% of Sierra Leone’s population is facing poverty, with the youth unemployment rate being one of the highest in West Africa.
Two months after Bio won the disputed vote, police said they arrested several people, including senior military officers planning to use protests “to undermine peace” in the country.
A protest against the government in August last year resulted in the deaths of more than 30 people, including six police officers.
39 die in stampede during army recruitment exercise
Some people tried to force their way through stadium’s gates in the capital, Brazzaville, causing the stampede, residents have been quoted as saying.
Last week, the army announced plans to recruit about 1,500 people between the ages of 18 and 25.
Many people were injured in the crush, a government statement said.
It did not give a number, but said that a “crisis unit” has been set up, the AFP news agency reports.
According to the Associated Press agency, as many as 700 people a day have been registering over the last week at recruitment centres.
Youth unemployment is at around 42% in Congo-Brazzaville, with many young people seeing the army one of the few places where they can secure a job.
Details of what exactly happened at Michel d’Ornano stadium are sketchy. Thousands of young people had reportedly gathered outside the stadium on Monday.
Local sources have told the BBC the registration process was to open on Tuesday morning.
Brandon Tsetou, a graduate who survived the crush, said he had queued since early on Monday.
“According to the organisers, it was to be the last day. That’s why many of us decided to wait until late into the night, hoping to register,” he told AP.
“Some were so impatient that they had to force their way in, causing a stampede that left a number of people dead or injured, which we deplore.” (BBC)
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