Rohingya migrant boat lands in Indonesia

Rohingya Muslim people as seen inside a room at Kuala Idi Rayeuk port after arriving on a wooden boat in Aceh Timur, Indonesia, on Dec. 4, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 04 December 2018
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Rohingya migrant boat lands in Indonesia

  • Indonesia tends to accept asylum seekers but they are usually barred from working

IDI RAYEUK, INDONESIA: A boat carrying 20 Rohingya men landed in Indonesia Tuesday, authorities said, the latest group of the vulnerable Myanmar minority to reach the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.
They arrived in Indonesia's western Aceh province on Sumatra island in a rickety wooden boat, according to a local official.
Most of the men ranged in age from 14 to 28, with one of them aged 50.
"They are Rohingya from Myanmar. We asked them where they were heading and they said they were going to Malaysia," said Idi Rayeuk district navy commander Razali, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
"Maybe it's because of the currents that they've landed here instead."
The group were all in good condition and authorities are trying to find them a shelter, Razali added.
In recent weeks authorities in both Myanmar and Bangladesh, where around a million of the Muslim refugees are living in camps, have stopped boats filled with fleeing Rohingya migrants headed mainly for Malaysia.
It has been rare for Rohingya to attempt the sea routes south since Thai authorities clamped down on regional trafficking networks in 2015, sparking a crisis across Southeast Asia as large numbers were abandoned at sea.
That year, hundreds of Rohingya came ashore in Aceh, where they were welcomed in the staunchly conservative Islamic province.
But there have been concerns the desperate community might start taking to the high seas again after mainly Buddhist Myanmar launched a new military crackdown last year that forced about 700,000 members of the Muslim minority to flee to Bangladesh.
In April, about 80 Rohingya in a wooden boat landed in Aceh, just weeks after dozens more arrived in neighbouring Malaysia.
Indonesia tends to accept asylum seekers but they are usually barred from working and often spend years in immigration centres.


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

Updated 12 min 10 sec ago
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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)