79 people presumed dead in London tower block fire: police

Posters of people missing are stuck to a telephone box near Grenfell Tower in London, Saturday, June 17, 2017. Police Commander Stuart Cundy said Saturday it will take weeks or longer to recover and identify all the dead in the public housing block that was devastated by a fire early Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2017
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79 people presumed dead in London tower block fire: police

LONDON: Seventy-nine people are dead or missing and presumed dead following a devastating blaze in a London tower block last week, police said on Monday, as Britain held a minute’s silence for the victims.
“As of this morning, I’m afraid to say there are now 79 people that we believe are either dead or missing and I sadly have to presume are dead,” police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters.
Police had earlier put the toll at 58 presumed dead.
He said only five people had been formally identified so far by police, after officers earlier warned that some may never be identified due to the condition of the remains.
Cundy said the search and recovery operation was ongoing in the burnt-out 24-story tower.
“This is an incredible distressing time for families and they have my commitment that we will do this as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.
Cundy promised an “exhaustive” criminal investigation into the fire that would also look at a major refurbishment of the building completed last year.
“We will go where the evidence may take us,” and do everything possible “to ensure that those responsible will be brought to justice,” he said.
“If I identify... an issue that is a risk to public safety, we will be sharing that immediately with the relevant authorities,” he added.
Cundy warned that the toll of 79 people could change.
“I believe there may be people who were in Grenfell Tower that people may not know were missing and may not have realized they were in there on the night.
“Equally, there may be people who thankfully may have managed to escape the fire and for whatever reason have not let their family or friends or police know,” he said.


Bangladesh declares zero tolerance against drug dealers

Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) soldiers during a raid on suspected drug dealers at Mohammadpur Geneva Camp in Dhaka Saturday. (AP)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Bangladesh declares zero tolerance against drug dealers

  • Law enforcers have so far arrested 3,000 drug dealers, while 23 drug peddlers were killed during “gunfights” while they were being captured.
  • Human rights activists and the country’s largest opposition party the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have criticized the “gunfight” incidents as a “violation of human rights.”

DHAKA: Bangladesh has declared a war on drugs throughout the country. In the past 12 days around 84 alleged drug dealers were killed during gunfights with the law-enforcing agencies.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the anti-narcotic drive in early May.

Human rights activists and the country’s largest opposition party the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have criticized the “gunfight” incidents as a “violation of human rights.”

On early Sunday, 11 drug dealers were killed in separate gunfight incidents throughout the country. Among the dead was a ruling party leader who was a city councilor in Cox’s Bazar City.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a paramilitary law-enforcing agency, started its anti-narcotic movement on May 4. And it has so far arrested 3,000 drug dealers, while 23 drug peddlers were killed during “gunfights” while they were being captured.

Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan, spokesperson of the RAB, told Arab News: “There is no question of violation of human rights in our ongoing war against drugs.”

He said that when the RAB captured any armed person or group generally some shootout incidents took place. And, he claimed, it also happens in the US and other developed countries. “We arrest the drug dealers based on intel information and later on they are produced to the court.”

Bangladesh Police started its all-out operation against drugs on May 15, and police headquarters has directed all its units to start countrywide operations against dealers.

Mohammad Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said: “Our anti-narcotic operations will continue till the situations come down to a tolerant level.” He said the only objective of this operation was to bring down the usage level of narcotics in society.

Justifying the anti-drug movement, Masudur added: “We only arrest the persons with whom we get drugs. And we will continue this movement for an indefinite period.”

Obaidul Quader, general secretary of ruling party Bangladesh Awami League, said: “Any drug trader, irrespective of party, won’t be spared if accusations become true.

“The countrymen have amicably welcomed the law enforcement agencies’ drives against narcotics. Only those with evil political intentions are criticizing the crackdown,” Quader told local media on Saturday.

But Advocate Asadujjaman, human rights secretary of the BNP, claimed that in many areas of the country their supporters and leaders were arrested in the name of the anti-drug movement.

He added: “Any kind of extrajudicial killing is unconstitutional, illegal, inhuman and a violation of human rights of international standard. It shows that the government is not showing any respect to protect the basic rights of the people as stated in the Constitution.”

The country’s human rights group is also criticizing the killings. Nur Khan, renowned human rights activist and adviser of the Human Rights Support Society, demanded an investigation into every extrajudicial killing through a neutral and credible Investigation Commission.

Nur said: “This type of extrajudicial killing will establish the culture of absence of justice in the society. People will get frightened due to this situation.”