Anti-Asian violence 'must end,' Obama says after Atlanta shootings

A total of eight people were killed in three separate attacks Tuesday at spas and massage parlours around Georgia's largest city. A white 21-year-old male was taken into custody on suspicion of conducting the shootings.

Law enforcement personnel are seen outside a massage parlor where a person was shot and killed on 16 March 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. Picture: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - Violence against people of Asian decent "must end," former US president Barack Obama said Wednesday after a series of shootings in the Atlanta area left six Asian women dead.

"Although the shooter's motive is not yet clear, the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end," Obama said on Twitter.

A total of eight people were killed in three separate attacks Tuesday at spas and massage parlors around Georgia's largest city. A white 21-year-old male was taken into custody on suspicion of conducting the shootings.

Authorities in Georgia told reporters it might be too soon to determine whether the Atlanta area attacks constituted a hate crime.

"This is still early, but (the suspect) does claim it was not racially motivated," said Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.

Anti-Asian discrimination appears to have risen in the United States over the past year amid the coronavirus crisis, which some Americans including former president Donald Trump highlight began in China in late 2019.

During his eight years in office Obama was a proponent of increased gun safety measures and he returned to the issue on Wednesday.

"Even as we've battled the pandemic, we've continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America," he said.

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