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Gunman kills 9 in hate crime at African-American church in US

An unknown white gunman has killed 9 people at a historic African-American church in the U.S. city of downtown Charleston, in what police called a hate crime. The shooter is still absconding.

Police Chief Greg Mullen said the shooting occurred at the Emanuel AME Church. Mullen further added that there were survivors, but could not confirm how many, or how many were inside at the time of incident. The chief would not confirm whether the pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney was one of the victims.

As the city's mayor and police updated the news media, a group of pastors huddled together praying in a circle across the street.

The police officials moved the members of news media back away from the site due to what they called an "imminent" threat. They did not release any details.

Jeb Bush, Republican presidential hopeful, sent out an email saying due to the shooting, the candidate had canceled an event planned in the city on Thursday.

The Emmanuel AME church has its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston's Methodist Episcopal church.