Police detain man after 11 injured in car incident near London museum, terrorism ruled out

Updated 07 October 2017
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Police detain man after 11 injured in car incident near London museum, terrorism ruled out

LONDON: A man was detained after 11 people were injured on Saturday in a collision with a car near London’s Natural History Museum, in one of the capital’s busiest tourist areas, but police ruled out terrorism.
Police said it was believed a car mounted the pavement and collided with a number of pedestrians.
“The incident is a road traffic investigation and not a terrorist-related incident,” the statement said.
The museum, one of the most popular visitor attractions in the country, said in a statement: “A vehicle has collided with pedestrians near the Natural History Museum entrance at Exhibition Road.”
London’s ambulance service said they had treated 11 people, mostly for head and leg injuries, with nine taken to hospital.
Unverified footage from the scene in South Kensington, west London, showed a man being pinned to the ground by what appeared to be four security guards or police officers.
Prime Minister Theresa May was being updated, a spokesman said, adding it was usual practice in such circumstances, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was in close contact with the police’s most senior counter-terrorism officer.
 
Footage of man being arrested after car hits pedestrians outside Natural History Museum in London. (Photo courtesy: social media)


Packed with tourists
Exhibition Road, in one of London’s most upmarket districts, is home to a host of museums, restaurants as well as university buildings with the streets packed with tourists at the weekend.
“We heard a horrible thudding noise and a car engine. Everyone started running and screaming inside,” Connor Honeyman, who was in the queue for the museum, told the BBC.
A Reuters witness said large numbers of paramedics and police, including armed officers, were at the scene although the atmosphere appeared calm.
The car believed to have been involved in the incident was lying diagonally across the road, jammed between two other vehicles. A BBC reporter said she had seen one or two people on the ground and police had told her the injuries sustained were minor.
Britain is on its second highest security alert level, meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely. There have been five attacks described by the authorities as terrorism this year, three involving vehicles.
In March, a man drove a car into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge killing four before stabbing a police officer to death in the grounds of parliament.
Three Islamist militants drove into people on London Bridge in June before stabbing people at nearby restaurants and bars, killing eight. The same month, a van was driven into worshippers near a mosque in north London which left one man dead.
The Natural History Museum is the fourth most popular tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, with 4.6 million visits during 2016, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
A spokesman for the museum told Reuters that no one was being allowed into the building and people were being let out through a different exit. 


Greece ‘turning a page’ as eurozone declares crisis over

Updated 2 min 39 sec ago
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Greece ‘turning a page’ as eurozone declares crisis over

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday said the country was “turning a page” after eurozone ministers declared its crisis over as they granted Athens debt relief under a bailout exit strategy.
The eurozone ministers’ agreement comes nearly a decade after Athens finances spun out of control, sparking three bailouts and threatening the country’s euro membership.
“Yesterday we reached a historic agreement on Greece’s debt with the Eurogroup,” Tsipras told the country’s president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“We are turning a page,” he said, adding that Greece had to remain on the path of reform.
Following the eurozone ministers’ hard-fought agreement declared earlier Friday, Greece is slated to leave its third financial rescue since 2010 on August 20.
“The Greek crisis ends here tonight,” said EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, after marathon talks in Luxembourg.
The deal was expected to be an easy one, but last-minute resistance by Germany — Greece’s long bailout nemesis and biggest creditor — dragged the talks on for six hours.
The ministers agreed to extend maturities by 10 years on major parts of its total debt obligations, a mountain that has reached close to double the country’s annual economic output.
They also agreed to disburse €15 billion ($17.5 billion) to ease Greece’s exit from the rescue program.
This would leave Greece with a hefty €24 billion safety cushion, officials said.
“The agreed debt relief is bigger than we had expected,” Citi European Economics said in a note.
“In particular, the 10-year extension of the EFSF loans’ maturity and most importantly the grace period on interest payments is a significant development,” they added.
“The Greek government is happy with the agreement,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said after the talks.
But “to make this worthwhile we have to make sure that the Greek people must quickly see concrete results... they need to feel the change in their own pockets,” he added.
The eight-year crisis toppled four governments and shrank the economy by 25 percent. Unemployment soared and still hovers over 20 percent, sending thousands of young educated Greeks abroad.
Optimism is tempered by Greece’s remaining fiscal obligations, which will demand serious discipline, observers say.
“This is a very tight program. A surplus of 3.5 percent to 2022 and 2.2 percent (on average) to 2060 is not easy at all,” Kostas Boukas, asset management director at Beta Securities, told Athens 9,84 radio.
“We’ll have to see if the pledges will be kept, especially as they depend on international developments as well,” he said.
Under pressure from its creditors, Greece has already agreed to slash pensions again in 2019, and reduce the tax-free income threshold for millions of people in 2020.
Further cuts will be made to maintain the 3.5-percent surplus, if necessary.
“It would be a terrible mistake to cultivate illusions that the end of the bailout means a return to normality,” said pro-opposition daily Ta Nea.
“What follows is tough oversight which no other country has experienced in a post-bailout period,” the daily said.
The European Commission has already specified that Greece will remain under fiscal supervision until it repays 75 percent of its loans.
Athens has received €273.7 billion in assistance since 2010, enabling it to avoid punishing borrowing rates on debt markets.
The International Monetary Fund, led by the tough-talking Christine Lagarde, welcomed the debt relief, but cited reservations about Greece’s obligations over the long term.
“In the medium term analysis there is no doubt in our minds that Greece will be able to reaccess the markets,” Lagarde said after the talks.
“As far as the longer term is concerned we have concerns,” she added.
The reform-pushing IMF played an active role in the two first Greek bailouts, but took only an observer role in the third in the belief that Greece’s debt pile was unsustainable in the long term.