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AFP, EYE WITNESS NEWS, NEWS24 (South Africa), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

PRETORIA- Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee who broke barriers for the disabled by competing in the London Olympics, has been charged on suspicion of killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home early Thursday.

South African police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale said: “We have opened a case of murder. Paramedics declared the woman dead on the scene and police proceeded with their investigation. The woman sustained wounds to her head and upper body," South African News24 reports.

Johannesburg’s Eye Witness News had reported earlier that Pistorius, who became globally recognizable for running on two state-of-the art blades, told police he'd mistaken Steenkamp for a burglar. Pistorius is reportedly fully cooperating with police, and is said to be traumatized by losing a person he said he was very close to.

“The SA Police Service were surprised this morning to hear on the radio that allegations had been made that the deceased had been perceived to be a burglar," South African police source Denise Beukes said according to News24. "We were very surprised and those allegations did not come from us."

Beukes also said there had "previously been allegations of a domestic nature at Mr Pistorius's home."

A statement from the International Paralympic Committee said: "Following the news of the alleged shooting incident involving South African athlete Oscar Pistorius this morning, the International Paralympic Committee will not be passing any comment on the case at this time...The IPC would like to offer its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families involved in this case."

South Africa has some of the world's highest rates of violent crime and many home owners have weapons to defend themselves against intruders says Reuters. In 2004, Springbok rugby player Rudi Visagie shot dead his 19-year-old daughter after he mistakenly thought she was a robber trying to steal his car in the middle of the night.

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Jim Thurston

Pistorius was named by Time Magazine last year as one of the world's 100 most influential people. After being denied the chance to compete in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he broke historical barriers in London last year by competing the 400 meters and 4X400-meter relay.

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