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Hate crime: Gunman kills 9 in US church

A young white gunman On Thursday sprayed bullets at worshippers in a historic black church in the US state of South Carolina in a “hate” crime, killing the pastor-cum-state senator besides eight others in one of the state’s worst mass shootouts. Members at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston had gathered for a prayer meeting when gunfire erupted in the 19th century building, raising racial tensions in the country that has recently witnessed a spate of killings of unarmed black men by white police officers. The killings had led to widespread protests and riots besides a national debate on race.

Today’s shooter - described as clean-shaven man, about 21 years old, with a small, slender built - is absconding and authorities have mounted a massive search operation to nab him, with helicopters seen hovering above the area.

Police <g data-gr-id="13">has</g> released images of the suspected shooter captured from the CCTV that show him about 5 feet 9 inches tall with dark blond or brown hair in a distinctive bowl-type haircut. The suspect was seen leaving the church in a black sedan, police said. “At this point, we have nine victims in this hideous crime that has been committed,” Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen told reporters. 
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