Pakistan and Saudi navies share unique bond, top official says

Capt. Shahid Wasif, Commanding Officer of Pakistan Naval Ship (PNS) SAIF, hosted a reception dinner in honor of the Saudi Naval Officers, diplomats, Pakistani media and Community representatives, on Monday, on the ship deck at Jeddah Islamic Port. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan Consulate in Jeddah)
Updated 16 October 2018

Pakistan and Saudi navies share unique bond, top official says

  • Capt. Wasif acknowledges Kingdom’s support in promoting bilateral ties
  • Says Islamabad will continue to safeguard waters of friendly countries

ISLAMABAD: Thanking the Saudi government for its hospitality towards naval officials visiting the Kingdom, Capt. Shahid Wasif, Commanding Officer of PNS Saif, said that the Pakistan Navy would continue its mission to safeguard and enhance bilateral relations with friendly countries.

Addressing the reception — hosted on board PNS Saif which is currently on a visit to Saudi Arabia —  in honor of Saudi Naval Officers and diplomats, at the Jeddah Islamic Port on Monday, Capt. Wasif added that the navies of both countries enjoyed a unique bond as some officers had trained together at the Pakistan Naval Academy, in Karachi.

“Navies of both countries have also held a number of joint trainings and exercises, including the Naseem-ul-Bahr joint naval exercise,” Capt. Wasif said.

Capt. Tariq Al Seeri, a representative of the Saudi Royal Navy, Pakistan’s acting Consul General, Shaiq Bhutto, and other consulate officials also attended the event which began with the national anthems of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, a statement issued by Pakistani Consulate in Jeddah, said.

“Saudi Arabia has a very significant role and position in the region. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have time tested and mutually supportive relations,” Capt. Wasif said, adding that Pakistan believes in promoting peace both at a regional and international level and “will always remain committed to the cause”.

He acknowledged the vision of the Saudi leadership to promote bilateral ties, while expressing a desire to “broaden Pakistan Navy’s cooperation with Saudi Navy”, the statement said.

At least three dead in multiple shooting in Utrecht, police hunting Turkish-born man

Updated 20 min 50 sec ago

At least three dead in multiple shooting in Utrecht, police hunting Turkish-born man

  • Police are not ruling out terrorism as a possible motive
  • ‘Threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province’

DUBAI: At least three people have been killed and five others injured in a shooting incident in Utrecht, in The Netherlands on Monday morning.

Dutch security forces were hunting for a 37-year-old Turkish man in connection with the incident, in what authorities said appeared to be a terrorist attack. The city's mayor confirmed the death of three people on Monday afternoon.

"At this stage, we can confirm three deaths and nine wounded, three of them seriously," Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said in a video statement on Twitter. The number of injured was later reduced to five.

"We are working on the principle that it was a terrorist attack," he added.

Police forces walk near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (AFP/ANP)

Dozens of armed police plus canine units later surrounded a building a few hundred metres away, an AFP reporter at the scene said, but it was not clear if the gunman was inside.

Police said they believed a red Renault Clio had been carjacked around the time of the shooting and had been found abandoned later.

The Utrecht municipality said it advised "everyone to stay indoors until more is known, new incidents are not excluded," but this was withdrawn at around 4:30pm local time. The local hospital said it had set up a crisis centre. Tram traffic in the area was halted.

Emergency services stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (AFP)

Authorities raised the terrorism threat to its highest level in Utrecht province, schools were told to shut their doors and paramilitary police increased security at airports and other vital infrastructure, and also at mosques.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks, saying he was deeply concerned about the incident.

Utrecht Police tweeted an image of a man named Gökmen Tanis, asking people for information on him in connection with the incident — but warned members of the public not to approach him.

The main counterterrorism unit in The Netherlands, the  National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), told the Dutch public broadcaster that the incident had all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

Counter-terrorism forces have surrounded a building where the gunman may be located, local broadcaster NOS News reported.

There was gunfire at several locations in the city, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief said.

“Shooting took place this morning at several locations in Utrecht,” Dutch anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference in The Hague. “A major police operation is under way to arrest the gunman.”

Aalbersberg said in a statement that the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” referring to the highest level. 

“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he said in a Twitter message. He called on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police. 

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens did not exclude more people might be involved. 

“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens said.

A hotline to address queries about the situation. The Netherlands has one of the strictest gun laws and ownership is limited to law enforcement, hunters and target shooters.

Local media reports have said counter-terrorism police were seen at the scene.

“Shooting incident... Several injured people reported. Assistance started,” the Utrecht police Twitter account said. “It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help.”

The 24 Oktoberplein is a busy Utrecht traffic junction, with a tram stop. Tram traffic was temporarily stopped due to the incident, but the trams are currently running again between Zuilenstein, Nieuwegein and IJsselstein.

(With AFP and Reuters)