Finland: two new suspects in Turku attack held

Suspect Abdederrazak Essarioul allegedly involved in the Finnish stabbing attack covers himself in the Southwest Finland District Court during the remand hearing on August 22, 2017 in Turku, Finland. (AFP)
Updated 24 August 2017
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Finland: two new suspects in Turku attack held

HELSINKI: Finnish police said on Wednesday they had arrested two more suspects in connection with last week’s stabbing spree that killed two women and wounded eight other people.
Police have previously detained the main suspect, a Moroccan asylum seeker, and three other Moroccan men in connection with the killings on Friday in the city of Turku. An international arrest warrant has been issued for a fifth.
The incident has been treated as Finland’s first suspected Islamist militant attack. The two new suspects gave different stories to Finnish and Swedish authorities, telling the former they were from Algeria and the latter they were Moroccan, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said in a statement.
The main suspect has been named as 18-year-old Moroccan Abderrahman Mechkah, who on Tuesday told a court he was responsible for the attack but denied a terrorist motive.
Police said his identity is likely to be false. “We have reasons to suspect that he has given wrong information to authorities when coming to the country,” Detective Superintendent Markus Laine of the NBI told Reuters.
The man identified as Mechkah arrived in Finland in 2016, lived in a reception center in Turku and was denied asylum before the attack.
He had earlier spent time in Germany, according to authorities. German media reported on Tuesday that he had used several false identities in the country, and that he was charged with causing bodily harm.
“We can’t comment yet on his motives... he has not been willing to answer all questions,” Laine said.
He said the police had not so far found any links to the van attack in Barcelona, Spain, which killed 13 people and wounded scores of others a day earlier.
Daesh has claimed responsibility for the attack in Spain. Police said all members of a 12-man cell they believe to have been responsible for the attack had been either killed or arrested in the days after.


Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

Updated 36 min 10 sec ago
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Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

TUTICORIN, India: A protester shot during demonstrations against a copper plant in southern India died of his injuries Thursday, officials said, the 13th victim killed by police fire.
A curfew remained in pockets of Tuticorin city in Tamil Nadu state where police used live ammunition to disperse protesters this week, provoking international outrage and demands for an immediate investigation.
Calls for the copper smelting plant owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources to be closed had been building in recent months, with residents complaining it was polluting their city.
The resistance came to a head Tuesday when police stopped a crowd of thousands from protesting outside the factory.
Cars and buildings were set ablaze and rocks hurled at police, who responded with live fire. Eleven demonstrators were shot dead and many people injured in the melee, including 20 police.
Another protester died Wednesday when he was struck by rubber bullets in a second day of protests.
The latest victim died in hospital Thursday, two days after being injured, doctors said.
“He was brought in a critical condition with bullet injuries and died today,” a doctor at the local hospital said.
The chief minister of Tamil Nadu has ordered an inquiry but defended the actions of police, which the state’s opposition leader called “mass murder.”
“The police have a duty during protests to maintain law and order, but lethal force can only be used if there is an imminent threat to life,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
“Tamil Nadu authorities need to carry out a prompt and credible investigation to determine if police used excessive force.”
Internet services have been blocked across the city for five days. Police justified the blackout to stop the spread of information that could incite further violence as they search for those behind Tuesday’s arson attacks.
Environmentalists and locals say the factory contaminates water and air, claims its owners deny.
The company has sought to renew the license of the temporarily non-operational plant and hopes to double its production capacity.
But a state court Wednesday ordered that it cease any further construction at the new site.
The ruling came just hours after Tamil Nadu’s pollution board ordered the existing plant be shut and its power supply cut until a verdict is made on its licensing application.