3 people dead, several injured after stabbings in Finland and Germany

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The body of one of the victims of Friday’s stabbing spree in Turku, Finland. (Reuters)
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A video grab taken from Twitter on August 18, 2017 shows officials standing in a street in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed. (AFP)
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A picture taken with a smart phone shows the Market Square in Turku on August 18, 2017. (AFP)
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A video grab taken from Twitter on August 18, 2017 shows officials standing in a street in the Finnish city of Turku where several people were stabbed. (AFP)
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Turku, Finland (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 August 2017
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3 people dead, several injured after stabbings in Finland and Germany

HELSINKI/BERLIN: Three people have died and several others injured in separate stabbing attacks in Finland and Germany on Friday, police from the two countries said.
Finnish police said in a news conference that two people have died and six needed hospital treatment after a knife attack in the city of Turku.
Police had yet to confirm how many people had been wounded but witnesses said they had seen several bodies lying on the ground in a busy area of the southwestern city.
Police shot one suspect in the legs and arrested him, while security forces wrote on Twitter that police were “looking for other possible perpetrators.”
“They ask the population to leave and avoid central Turku,” the tweet added.
Public television station Yle reported that central Turku was on lockdown, with businesses shut.
MTV3 television reported that police have raised security at Helsinki airport and at train stations.
In Germany, the stabbing attack happened in the western city of Wuppertal, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Duesseldorf.
Police said they are searching for up to three men who ran away after a stabbing at a store near the city center that left one person dead and another injured.
Marion Heedmann said a 31-year-old man was killed and a 25-year-old man was injured in the incident.
Heedmann said the circumstances of the stabbing were still unclear. Local public broadcaster WDR reported that a verbal altercation has preceded the incident.
Heedmann said a police tactical response team is searching for the fugitive, or fugitives.
The stabbing spree comes with Europe on high alert a day after drivers slammed into pedestrians in twin attacks in Spain, killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 100 others. The Daesh group has claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack.
“The government is following the situation in Turku closely and a police operation is under way,” tweeted Prime Minister Juha Sippila ahead of a cabinet meeting.
In 2012, Finland’s then-prime minister Jyrki Katainen escaped a knife attack in Turku while campaigning for municipal elections.
The man who approached him carrying a knife was found to be psychologically disturbed and no charges were brought against him.
(Additional reporting by Arab News)


UN says Nicaragua protest killings may be 'unlawful'

Updated 25 April 2018
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UN says Nicaragua protest killings may be 'unlawful'

  • Some groups called for "dictator" Ortega and his wife to step down, yelling "Out! Out!"
  • Mass street protests are rare in Nicaragua, where the army maintains a very tight grip on public order.

MANAGUA: The United Nations said Tuesday that many deaths in nearly a week of anti-government protests violently repressed by police in Nicaragua may have been "unlawful" and called for an investigation.
The scrutiny from the Swiss-based UN human rights office adds to international alarm at Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's ordered crackdown against a wave of anti-government demonstrations and clashes.
The European Union, United States and the Vatican have all urged talks to restore calm, while the US embassy in Managua ordered family members of staff out of the country after Ortega deployed the army to the streets and looting broke out.
A toll compiled from the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights and Ortega's wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, puts the number of deaths since last Wednesday at 27. Most were protesters, among which university students and youths figure prominently.
"We are particularly concerned that a number of these deaths may amount to unlawful killings," Liz Throssell of the UN Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights told reporters in Geneva.
"It is essential that all allegations of excessive use of force by police and other security forces are effectively investigated to ensure those responsible are held to account," Throssell said.
The UN office said at least 25 people, including a police officer, had been killed.
The protests were sparked Wednesday by pension reforms aimed at keeping Nicaragua's burdened Social Security Institute afloat by cutting benefits and increasing contributions.
But they rapidly spread and intensified as other grievances over Ortega's rule surged to the fore.
On Monday, tens of thousands of people -- employees, students, pensioners and ordinary citizens -- marched peacefully in the capital Managua and other cities demanding an end to the forceful security crackdown on protests.
Some groups called for "dictator" Ortega and his wife to step down, yelling "Out! Out!"
Ortega, a 72-year-old former Sandinista guerrilla leader who has ruled Nicaragua for 22 of the past 39 years, has been taken aback by the demonstrations against him, the biggest in his last 11-year stretch in power.
He has canceled the pension reforms and called for dialogue, and Murillo has suggested arrested protesters could be released.
But his security forces have not been pulled back, and -- though Managua appeared relatively calm early Tuesday -- widespread anti-government sentiment persisted.
Even Nicaragua's business sector, whose support had shored up Ortega over the past decade, has abandoned him over the violence.
A pro-government rally was being organized for Thursday to show that the president still enjoyed backing from part of the population.
Mass street protests are rare in Nicaragua, where the army maintains a very tight grip on public order.
But dissatisfaction has been bubbling over in recent months.
Frustrations have been voiced over corruption, the distant and autocratic style of Ortega and Murillo, limited options to change the country's politics in elections, and the president's control over the Congress, the courts and the electoral authority.
In rural areas, anger also stemmed from a stalled plan by Ortega to have a Chinese company carve a $50 billion canal across Nicaragua to rival Panama's lucrative Pacific-to-Atlantic shipping canal.
If the project went ahead, it would displace thousands of rural dwellers and indigenous communities, while dealing a negative impact on the environment.
"People are demanding democracy, freedom, free elections, a transparent government, the separation of powers, rule of law. The people want freedom," former Nicaraguan foreign minister Norman Caldera told AFP.
"If the government doesn't yield, it's going to be very difficult to stop this (the protests)," he said, asserting that the "big majority" of the population was showing its frustration with Ortega.
"The repressive apparatus is not able to halt protests on this scale," Caldera said.
Though Ortega has held out the promise of talks with opponents, the lack of any identifiable leader in the protest movement could make dialogue there difficult.
Under his watch, Nicaragua has avoided the rampant crime seen in northern Central American countries where gangs are rife.
It has also put in solid economic growth, yet it remains one of the poorest nations in Latin America.
The sudden upsurge in the streets puts Ortega at a crossroads: to tough it out, or to bow to the demands for democracy that have become too loud to ignore.