Gunman opens fire at Oregon community college before dying in shootout; at least 9 dead
ROSEBURG, Oregon — A gunman opened fire at a rural Oregon community college Thursday, killing at least nine people before dying in a shootout with police, authorities said. One survivor said he demanded his victims state their religion before he started shooting.
The killer, identified only as a 20-year-old man, invaded a classroom at Umpqua Community College in the small timber town of Roseburg, about 180 miles south of Portland. Authorities shed no light on his motive and said they were investigating.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said 10 people were dead and seven wounded after the attack. He did not clarify whether the number of dead included the gunman.
Earlier, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said 13 people were killed. It was unclear what led to the discrepancy.
"It's been a terrible day," a grim-faced Hanlin said. "Certainly this is a huge shock to our community."
The Latest: FBI spokeswoman says gunman is among 10 dead in Oregon shooting
ROSEBURG, Oregon — The latest on the deadly shooting Thursday at a community college in Oregon (all times local):
Federal authorities say the gunman is among the 10 people killed in a shooting at an Oregon college.
FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele declined to provide other information about the shooter.
The Latest: Virginia executes serial killer who claimed to be disabled
RICHMOND, Virginia — The latest on the scheduled execution of a convicted serial killer in Virginia. All times local:
Virginia has executed a convicted serial who claimed he was intellectually disabled.
Alfredo Prieto was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m. on Thursday at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarrat.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. GUNMAN OPENS FIRE AT OREGON COMMUNITY COLLEGE, KILLING 10
The attacker invades a classroom, demands that people state their religion, then sprays bullets, one student reports.
Hurricane Joaquin strengthens as it batters eastern Bahamas; storm could threaten US
ELEUTHERA, Bahamas — Hurricane Joaquin unleased heavy flooding as it roared through sparsely populated islands in the eastern Bahamas on Thursday as a Category 4 storm, with forecasters warning it could grow even stronger before carving a path that would take it near the U.S. East Coast.
The storm battered trees and buildings as surging waters reached the windows of some homes on Long Island in the Bahamas and inundated the airport runway at Ragged Island. There were no immediate reports of casualties, according to Capt. Stephen Russell, the director of the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said he was amending laws to mandate evacuations because some people were refusing to move into shelters.
"We do not know the impact of 130 miles an hour on those areas," he said, referring to the hurricane's winds. "We know it's a horrific kind of experience."
Christie and other top-ranking officials also deflected accusations that the government was not prepared and that residents were not properly advised.
Terrible tango: Hurricane Joaquin and drenching rainstorm are locked in a dangerous dance
WASHINGTON — Hurricane Joaquin is locked in a dance with an extraordinarily heavy rainstorm that is already drenching the Carolinas. As the two draw closer together over the next few days, the effects could be disastrous for the East Coast.
The rainstorm is the dance partner that is leading this tango, and what it does will determine where Joaquin goes and how much of the coast floods. Storm No. 1 could push Joaquin out to sea or pull it into the heavily crowded Northeast.
At the same time, Joaquin is feeding the storm with moisture, contributing to its torrential rain.
Meteorologists are deeply uncertain about where Joaquin will go. But they warn that the record-breaking downpours from storm No. 1 are a sure and scary thing, at least for an area stretching from South Carolina to Washington.
Joaquin strengthened over the Bahamas into a powerful Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds Thursday, and computer models over the past two days have switched back and forth, sometimes showing it blowing ashore along the East Coast, sometimes showing it peeling out to sea.
Russia defends its military action in Syria, sees 'eye-to-eye' with US on terrorist targets
MOSCOW — As Russian warplanes carried out a second wave of airstrikes Thursday in Syria, Moscow defended its military involvement against Western criticism of its intentions, saying it sees "eye-to-eye" with the U.S.-led coalition campaign on its targets in the country.
The claim of agreement with Washington came amid conflicting reports about Russia's intentions in Syria and whether it is targeting only Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked militants.
The U.S. and its allies fear that Russia, which has backed the family of President Bashar Assad since the current leader's father was in power, is using the air campaign as a pretext to go after anti-Assad rebels that include CIA-backed groups.
Russian jets appeared to be primarily bombing central and northwestern Syria, strategic regions that are the gateway to Assad's strongholds in the capital of Damascus and the coast.
Warplanes hit locations of a U.S.-backed rebel group, Tajamu Alezzah, in the central province of Hama, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It added that Tajamu Alezzah also was targeted a day earlier.
Russian military moves in Syria confound the US; Obama hesitation criticized
NEW YORK — Now, 1,506 days since the Obama administration first declared that Syrian President Bashar Assad's "days are numbered," he's still there, and a convergence of Western trepidation and Russian resolve could strengthen his position further. But it also could set the stage for a long-sought political transition leading to the end of the Assad family's 45-year rule.
In either case, Assad's Russian and Iranian backers could arguably claim victory.
But there's also a painful third possibility. Russia's decision to intervene with airstrikes this week could just prolong and exacerbate an already brutal conflict that has spawned the largest refugee crisis since World War II and helped the rise of the radical Islamic State group that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says, aims to establish a caliphate from "Portugal to Pakistan."
The Obama administration has been criticized, first for a hesitating response to the civil war over the past four years and now for its hesitance to take a firm position on Russia's moves.
Administration officials have alternately welcomed a Russian role, provided it is limited to fighting the Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates, and denounced it as a tool to rescue Assad or a cynical attempt to boost Moscow's own military presence in the Mediterranean. U.S. officials acknowledge they really don't know what Russia's intentions are. But what is clear is that the Russians have inserted themselves into a conflict the U.S. would have preferred they stay out of.
Afghan president seen as biggest loser as government troops push Taliban from northern city
KABUL, Afghanistan — Government troops seized control of the strategic northern city of Kunduz on Thursday, the Afghan president announced, following a six-hour battle that saw the Taliban insurgents who had held it for three days largely melt away.
Despite the claim of victory, residents hunkered down inside their homes said they could still hear explosions and shootings in the provincial capital, whose fall to the Taliban was a humbling defeat for President Ashraf Ghani and raised questions over whether the U.S.-trained military was capable of defending the country now that most coalition forces have withdrawn.
"Intense fighting is continuing in the streets of the city," said Zabihullah, speaking by phone from his home near the main city square. "The situation is really critical and getting worse, and I've just heard a huge explosion from a bomb near my house."
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the operation to retake Kunduz was launched late Wednesday, with ground forces moving from the airport — where they had massed since the city fell — over roads that had been mined by the insurgents.
By 3:30 a.m. Thursday the battle was over, he said, and Kunduz was under government control. He conceded, however that troops were still going street to street to clear out final pockets of Taliban resistance, and it could be some time before all insurgents had been cleared from the city and its surrounding districts.
Mideast crises in spotlight at UN: Netanyahu blasts Iran nuclear deal at General Assembly
UNITED NATIONS — In an impassioned speech interspersed with bouts of dramatic silence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday condemned the Iran nuclear deal as empowering Tehran to spread unrest in the Mideast while leaving the country capable of making an atomic bomb.
Netanyahu described Israeli-U.S. bickering over the deal as "a disagreement within the family," and the United States also downplayed any lasting effects of the fallout over an agreement that Washington praises and Israel condemns.
The Israeli leader's speech to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly was notable for his rhetorical flourishes, including 47 seconds of silence about 15 minutes into his address.
Netanyahu insisted the nuclear agreement lets Iran support terrorism in the Mideast and bolsters its plan to liquidate the Jewish state. He said the U.N. and most governments have responded to Iran's intent to destroy Israel with "deafening silence," and then stopped speaking to emphasize his point, glowering at hushed delegates before finally resuming his speech.
Netanyahu kept attacking the accord, which has already gone into effect despite intense lobbying by Israel's allies in Washington.