Hamas official escapes assassination attempt in Lebanon

Hamas has blamed Israel for the explosion in Sidon that wounded Mohammed Hamdan in his leg. (AN photo)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Hamas official escapes assassination attempt in Lebanon

BEIRUT: A Hamas official narrowly escaped death when his car exploded in Sidon, south Lebanon, on Sunday afternoon. 
He escaped the assassination attempt with leg injuries and underwent surgery at Hammoud Hospital in Sidon.
The explosion, from a 500-gram device placed under the driver’s seat, targeted Hamas member Mohammed Omar Hamdan, (aka “Abu hamzah“). It happened while Hamdan was entering his car, which was parked in Albustan Alkabir neighborhood. 
Reporters at the scene said Hamdan told his rescuers he was trying to open his car boot to clean it when the explosion happened.
Jihad Taha, Hamas deputy political official in Lebanon, said: “Hamdan is a member of the movement, and he works at the office of its political official in Lebanon, Ahmad Abdul Hadi.”
Ghassan Ayoub, from the Palestinian People’s Party at Ain Al-Hilweh camp, told Arab News that Hamdan was not active in Sidon; rather, his activities are limited to Beirut. 
“The explosion aimed to kill the target, not just injure him,” Ayoub noted. 
“If Israel targeted Hamdan, it wouldn’t be the first time Israel failed to kill its target.”

The official Lebanese National News Agency reported later that “the explosion resulted from a 500-gram explosive device which was placed under the driver’s seat.”
The Lebanese army command said in a statement: “The explosive device went off in a grey BMW in Albustan Alkabir, which resulted in the injury of its Palestinian owner Mohammad Hamdan. The army forces imposed a security cordon around the area, and the military expert checked the location of the explosion to determine its size and nature.”
Hamdan was the only casualty in the blast, although his wife and one of his children were following him.
A security source said “The forensic evidence section collected the videos recorded by local cameras and listened to witnesses who were present at the scene. The investigation is trying to find out whether the explosion was caused by remote control or due to friction, as well as deciding the time Hamdan parked his car, and whether another person was driving the car.”
Taha accused the Israelis of targeting Hamdan, and so did Ayman Shana’a, a Hamas political official, who stressed that “we are waiting for the results of the investigations of the security forces.”
Hamas declared in a statement that “the initial indicators point to the presence of Zionist links behind the criminal act.” 


Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

Updated 23 April 2018
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Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases
  • The two countries have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police arrested two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes as the Philippines’ ambassador faced questions for comments about his embassy’s work in aiding abused workers, authorities said Sunday.
The arrests, reported by the state-run KUNA news agency, come as relations are tense between Kuwait and the Philippines, which sends many domestic laborers to the Gulf Arab emirate.
Already, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases, culminating in a February incident that saw a Filipino’s body discovered in a freezer at a Kuwait City apartment abandoned for more than a year.
KUNA said Sunday the two Filipinos acknowledged convincing the maids to leave. It wasn’t clear what law the two men were accused of breaking, though KUNA said the two “confessed to the crime in addition to other similar offenses that had been committed in various regions of the country.”
The arrests came after Kuwait summoned the Philippines ambassador over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s effort to rescue domestic workers who are abused by their employers. Ambassador Renato Villa was quoted as saying his embassy moves in to help the abused if Kuwaiti authorities fail to respond within 24 hours.
Villa’s office said he was unavailable for comment Sunday.
Duterte in January complained that cases of abuse reported by Filipino domestic workers “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait.
There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally mauled a Filipino maid.
The Philippines banned workers entirely from Kuwait after the discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in a freeze in February. In late March, Lebanese officials said 40-year-old Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf confessed to killing the woman along with his Syrian wife, who remains at large. Authorities say Assaf faces a possible death sentence.
More than 260,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there.
Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers seize their phones and passports.