Twenty-One year old Dylann Roof is suspected of perpetrating a gun attack at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night.

The gunman reportedly attended a bible study for a full hour before killing six women and three men. Clementa Pinckney, the church's pastor and a Democratic member of the South Carolina State Senate, was one of the victims. Charleston's chief of police, Gregory Mullen stated that there were three survivors.

The location was the Emanuel AME Church, a centre for civil rights activism during the 1960's, which was visited on one occasion by Martin Luther King, who delivered a speech there in April 1962.

The attack appears to be racially motivated. A survivor claimed that the gunman told the victims 'I have to do it… You rape our women and you're taking over our country and you have to go'. Roof's facebook profile picture also sees him wear a jacket bearing the flags of South Africa and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, from when the African nations were ruled by the countries' white minorities. A childhood friend's mother also stated that Roof displayed a confederate flag on his car licence plate.

Dylann Roof was later detained for the racially motivated terrorist attack during a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina, roughly 250 miles north of Charleston. He was tipped-off to the police by friends and family who recognised Dylann in security footage from the church.

Court records show that Roof was facing a drugs charge, and was previously known to police through a trespassing incident last April.

President Barack Obama has offered his condolences and called for more sensible gun control, stating "let's be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reconcile the fact that these types of mass violence don't happen in other advanced countries, with this type of frequency."

Dylann Roof, described as 'adrift' by his uncle, appears to have acted alone, reflecting a worrying trend by which American terrorist attacks are increasingly being planned and perpetrated by lone-actors.

An analysis of lone-actor terrorists was published by Blasting News last month.

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