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Zuma, AU send condolences in the wake of Orlando nightclub shooting

African Union chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says she’s committed to fighting terrorism and violent extremism.

FILE: Orlando police officers seen outside of Pulse nightclub after a fatal shooting and hostage situation on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The suspect was shot and killed by police after 20 people died and 42 were injured. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma and African Union commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have sent their condolences to the families of the victims who died in the Orlando nightclub shooting calling the attack barbaric.

At least 49 victims died during the attack and hostage drama at Pulse nightclub in Florida yesterday morning.

The gunman, Omar Mateen, a New York-born Florida resident and US citizen who was the son of Afghan immigrants, was shot and killed by police who stormed the club early Sunday morning with armoured cars after a three-hour siege.

Zuma said in a statement that the attack, which targeted the LGBTI community, shows extreme levels of intolerance.

South Africa has condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms.

The president further says he stands with the people of the United States.

African Union commission chair Dlamini-Zuma also added her voice saying she is committed to continue working with the US, and the international community in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

The International Relations Department also says the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism require the world to work together to stop this dangerous phenomenon.

LISTEN: 50 people killed in a gay night club in Orlando, USA, and Isis claims responsibility.

US PROBING WHETHER ANYONE HELPED GUNMAN IN ORLANDO

At the same time, US law enforcement officials investigated whether anyone helped the gunman but said they did not believe anyone connected to the shooting posed a current danger to the public.

The FBI and other agencies were poring over evidence inside and in the closed-off streets around Orlando's Pulse nightclub, where the shooter pledging allegiance to Islamic State carried out the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

Officials said on Sunday the death toll was 50. On Monday they clarified that this included Mateen.

Law enforcement officials were looking for clues as to whether anyone worked with Mateen on the attack, said Lee Bentley, US Attorney for Florida's middle district.

"There is an investigation of other persons, we are working as diligently as we can on that," Bentley told a news conference. "If anyone else was involved in this crime, they will be prosecuted."

Officials emphasised that they believed there had been no other attackers and that they had no evidence of a threat to the public.

Mateen, 29, called emergency services during the shooting and pledged allegiance to the leader of the militant Islamic State group, officials said. His father said on Sunday his son was not radicalised, but indicated Mateen had strong anti-gay feelings. His ex-wife described him as mentally unstable and violent toward her.

Islamic State reiterated on Monday a claim of responsibility for the attack.

"One of the Caliphate's soldiers in America carried out a security invasion where he was able to enter a crusader gathering at a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando," the group said in a broadcast on its Albayan Radio

Although the group claimed responsibility, this did not necessarily mean it directed the attack: there was nothing in the claim indicating coordination between the gunman and Islamic State before the rampage.

The attack, denounced by President Barack Obama as an act of terror and hate, reignited the debate over how best to confront violent Islamist militancy, a top issue in the 8 November US presidential election campaign. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump both addressed the issue on Monday.

Trump has made it a centrepiece of his campaign to get tougher on security and has proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. He told Fox News on Monday that the United States should increase its military campaign against Islamic State militants, who hold land in Syria and Iraq, in response to the shooting.

The rampage began just after 2am on Sunday at the crowded Pulse nightclub in the heart of Orlando, about 25km northeast of the Walt Disney World Resort. Orlando is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, drawing some 62 million visitors a year.

Some 350 patrons were attending a Latin music event at the club and survivors described scenes of carnage and pandemonium as the shooter took hostages inside a bathroom.

WATCH: 50 killed in Orlando nightclub shooting.

QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT HOW SUSPECT SLIPPED THROUGH AUTHORITIES' HANDS

Questions are being raised over how the man responsible for the mass slipped through authorities' hands.

Omar Mateen was legally able to buy an assault rifle and handgun despite having been investigated twice by the FBI.

Mateen also held a permit to work as a security guard, which he did at a courthouse Florida, even though he was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 following separate reports of extremist behaviour and connections to terrorism that were in the end deemed insubstantial.

Additional reporting by Reuters.