Orlando shooting

Singapore sends condolences, condemns attack

A man at a makeshift vigil for victims who died in the weekend massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 13.
A man at a makeshift vigil for victims who died in the weekend massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 13.PHOTO: AFP

Singapore yesterday joined other world leaders in condemning the worst mass shooting in US history and expressed condolences over the killing of at least 49 people.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was "deeply shocked and saddened" by a gunman's Sunday rampage at a gay nightclub in Florida.

"Nothing can excuse such brutal and senseless acts of violence," Mr Lee said in a letter of condolence to United States President Barack Obama.

"Singapore and Singaporeans stand in solidarity with the United States and the American people during this time of grief."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean also expressed sadness over the attack in a post on Facebook.

"Let us treasure the peace and harmony we enjoy in Singapore, and focus on the common humanity we share, rather than allow those with bad motives to divide us or create conflict," Mr Teo said in the post yesterday.

There were no reports of Singaporeans affected by the incident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement yesterday.

The Singapore Embassy in Washington, DC has contacted most of the Singaporeans registered in Orlando and they are safe, the statement added.

Reacting to the latest in a litany of mass gun killings in the US, Mr Obama said the Federal Bureau of Investigation was "appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism", according to Agence France-Presse.

Pope Francis condemned the killings as "homicidal folly and senseless hatred", while Britain's Queen Elizabeth II expressed shock, adding that she and her husband's "thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected".

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sent his condolences to the families of the victims as the authorities identified the alleged gunman as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a US citizen of Afghan descent.

"I unequivocally condemn the horrific attack in Orlando, Florida, USA. Nothing can justify killing of civilians," Mr Ghani tweeted.

Leaders from countries shaken by recent militant attacks, including France and Belgium, were among the first to express solidarity with the US.

French President Francois Hollande "expresses the full support of France and the French people to the US authorities and the American people during this ordeal", a statement from the Elysee Palace said.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted his condolences over the attack, which comes 21/2 months after dual strikes by militants on the Brussels airport and metro that killed 32 people.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter that he was "horrified" by the shooting, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to stand "shoulder to shoulder with the United States at this moment of tragic loss".

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday called the killings "a barbaric crime".

And Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed "deep sympathy and sincere condolences" to Mr Obama, Xinhua news agency reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore sends condolences, condemns attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe