Two women held over Paris knife attack: prosecutor

File Photo showing the front of the french 'Palais de Justice' France's court of justice. (Reuters)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Two women held over Paris knife attack: prosecutor

PARIS: Two women were detained for questioning Thursday in connection with a deadly knife attack in Paris last weekend, France’s top anti-terror prosecutor Francois Molins said.
Molins also said that Abdoul Hakim A., a friend of the knifeman Khamzat Azimov, would be brought before a judge Thursday and potentially charged over his role in the attack.
He said he did not want to give more details of the two women for now, but a source close to the inquiry said one was Ines Hamza, a radicalized 19-year-old who married Abdoul Hakim A. before trying to leave for Syria in January 2017.
Azimov killed a 29-year-old man in the busy Opera district of the French capital on Saturday night before being shot and killed by police.
Molins said five other people had been wounded, and not four as previously reported.
He also said the deceased victim had been stabbed six times, with at least one “indicating an attempt to cut his throat.”
Witnesses said Azimov yelled “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) during the rampage, for which the Daesh group has claimed responsibility, later releasing a video purporting to show Azimov pledging allegiance to the extremist group.
Azimov, a 20-year-old naturalized Frenchman of Chechen origin, had been on France’s two main watch lists for suspected radicals since 2016.
His friend Abdoul Hakim, also 20 with Chechen origins and also on watch lists, was detained Sunday in the eastern city of Strasbourg, where the two men grew up, and later transferred to the headquarters of France’s domestic intelligence services in Paris.
“He has denied any implication in either preparing or carrying out the acts as well as any recent links with Khamzat Azimov, claiming not to have seen or been in contact with him for several months,” Molins said.
But he added that examinations of telephone networks showed that shortly before the attack, Abdoul Hakim has sent his sister a text message of “a militants' chant regularly used by Daesh.”
Investigators want to determine if Abdoul Hakim “may have influenced Azimov in his extremist quest or knew he was planning this attack,” the source said.
During a search of his home in Strasbourg police found seven cellphones but were unable to locate the phone he used most often, sources close to the case said.
“This telephone, he probably threw it away. He told investigators that he had gone to the gym and lost it there,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told RTL radio on Wednesday.
He also revealed that Azimov had carried out his attack “with one of his mother’s kitchen knives.”
Azimov’s parents were released from custody on Tuesday after investigators found no incriminating elements during questioning.
The attack brings to 246 the number of victims from a string of attacks in france by Daesh extremists since 2015.
 

 


Solomon Islands’ forests felled fast to feed China demand — Global Witness

Updated 18 min 23 sec ago
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Solomon Islands’ forests felled fast to feed China demand — Global Witness

  • Export volumes of the archipelago’s single largest export commodity leapt more than 20 percent to just over 3 million cubic meters in 2017
  • Global Witness said this was more than 19 times higher than sustainable levels
SYDNEY, Australia: The South Pacific nation of the Solomon Islands is felling its tropical forests at nearly 20 times a sustainable rate, according to research by an environmental group published on Thursday, driven by insatiable Chinese demand for its lumber.
Export volumes of the archipelago’s single largest export commodity leapt more than 20 percent to just over 3 million cubic meters in 2017, central bank figures show, worth $3 billion Solomon Islands dollars ($378 million).
Environmental and rights group Global Witness said this was more than 19 times higher than sustainable levels, and if continued could denude the country and soon exhaust the single biggest contributor to the Solomons’ economic growth.
Deforestation also removes wild fruits and vegetables that are a local food source and destroys the habitats of animals.
Global Witness’ analysis of import data also found that the overwhelming majority of the lumber was sent to China, the world’s top importer of timber, which it said underscored the urgency for Beijing to regulate imports and probe their origins.
“The scale of the logging is so unsustainable that natural forests will be exhausted very soon if nothing changes,” Beibei Yin, who led the research team that compiled the report, told Reuters by phone from London where Global Witness is based.
“The Chinese companies which import most of the wood are so significant that if all of them together stop buying there is still a chance to revert back,” she said.
Global Witness took 155,000 cubic meters as a sustainable log export volume from the Solomons, which is the lowest but most recently calculated of several government and expert analyzes, with the highest being approximately 300,000.
It gave no date of its own for the possible exhaustion of forests but cited a preliminary estimate of 2036 which was made in 2011 by the Solomons’ forestry ministry.
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s office directed Reuters to the secretary for the Forestry Minister, who did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
China’s commerce ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
The Solomon Islands has more than 2.2 million hectares (5.4 million acres) of forest covering approximately 80 percent of its land area, which is spread over some 990 islands.
Though the country’s forestry ministry has previously said it had toughened regulations to combat illegal logging, Global Witness said a lack of enforcement capacity increased the risk of loggers cutting more than permitted.
Global Witness’ satellite analysis of logging roads showed 669 km (416 miles) lying above 400 m (1,300 feet) elevation, where logging is nominally restricted.
Interpol estimates the global trade in illegal lumber to be worth more than $50 billion annually. ($1 = 7.9381 Solomon Islands dollars) (Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; additional reporting by Elias Glenn in BEIJING Editing by James Dalgleish)