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Oscar Pistorius charged with murder after girlfriend shot dead

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Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder after his girlfriend was shot dead today.

Former model Reeva Steenkamp was shot in the head, the chest and the arm at his South African home, police said.

Pistorius, who is known as the Blade Runner, will stay in a protected police cell in Pretoria overnight and appear in court tomorrow morning.

It has been reported that the South African athlete claims to have shot Miss Steenkamp after mistaking her for a burglar when she entered his home as part of a Valentine's Day surprise.

"We have opened a case of murder," Pretoria police spokesman Katlego Mogale said, adding they will be opposing bail. Pistorius was seen being led away from the property today with his head bowed wearing a scruffy grey hoodie. The track star was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics and reached the 400 semi-finals before taking gold in the same event at the Paralympics.

He lives on a large farm north-east of Johannesburg, which is heavily guarded.

Police say the couple were the only people in the home at the time.

Brigadier Denise Beukes said police were "very surprised" by the burglar suggestion, telling reporters near the scene: "These allegations did not come from us."

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Beukes added: "I can confirm there have been previous allegations at the home of Oscar Pistorius.

"The allegations were of a domestic nature and took place in the last two years." This afternoon, Pistorius's father Henke said: "It will be extremely obnoxious and rude to speculate. If anyone makes a statement, it will have to be Oscar."

In an interview before the London Olympics, Pistorius revealed how he slept with a pistol next to his bed and kept a machine gun by a window.

Only last week Miss Steenkamp, a law graduate, gave an interview in which she described her boyfriend as "an impeccable man who always had her best interests at heart". Yesterday, she spoke excitedly on Twitter about her plans for Valentine's Day.

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The police said that they were called following a shooting at a townhouse complex in the Silverlakes district and arrived to find paramedics tending to the woman.

She was declared dead at the scene and a 9mm pistol was recovered. South African journalist Kalay Maistry said: "It is alleged that he thought his girlfriend, who'd come in to try to surprise him for Valentine's Day, was an intruder.

"It's alleged that he shot her in the arm and head. I think what this actually highlights is the level of fear ordinary South Africans have."

Pistorius is known as the Blade Runner because of the prosthetics he uses for racing. The Johannesburg-born athlete, who was born without fibulas in his legs and had the limbs amputated when he was 11 months old, had to win a legal battle over his blades with the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2008 for the right to compete with able-bodied athletes.

Last year Time Magazine named him as one of the world's 100 most influential people.

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