Terror probe after explosive devices found at London airports, Waterloo Station

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A police-woman stands guard outside a police cordon at Waterloo Station, central London on March 5, 2019, following a report of a suspicious package at the station. (AFP)
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Security personel stand guard outside Waterloo station in central London on March 5, 2019, following a report of a suspicious package at the station. (AFP)
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Security personel stand guard outside Waterloo station in central London on March 5, 2019, following a report of a suspicious package at the station. (AFP)
Updated 06 March 2019
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Terror probe after explosive devices found at London airports, Waterloo Station

  • A building near Heathrow Airport evacuated as precaution after package opened and part of it burned
  • Met Police Counter Terrorism Command treating the incidents as a “linked series”

LONDON: UK police say a counter-terrorism investigation has been launched after small improvised explosive devices were found at Heathrow Airport, City Airport and Waterloo Station on Tuesday.

At least two of the parcel bombs sent to the locations had Irish stamps, Sky News said. Irish police are now assisting British counter-terrorism officers, they said on Tuesday.

The mailers – all A4-sized white postal bags containing yellow Jiffy bags – were assessed by specialist officers to be small improvised explosive devices. The devices, at this early stage of the investigation, appear capable of igniting an initially small fire when opened, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

The Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is treating the incidents as a linked series and is keeping an open mind regarding motives. British Transport police said their specialist units were called to Waterloo Station after a “suspicious item” was found in the mailing room, but said the public were not put in harm’s way.

One package was found near Heathrow Airport at an office building, which was evacuated as a precaution after the package was opened and part of it burned causing a small fire. Officials say the building is not at the airport and flights were not affected.

No one was injured by the devices and air and rail services were not affected. No arrests have been made.

The extent of the incident is still not yet known. Most of Waterloo Station remained in operation; when contacted by Arab News, several shops were not even aware of the incident and one said they were trading as normal. Some were informed, and were given a warning with minimal information, and told to follow updates on the Metropolitan Police's social media accounts.

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RELATED: UK police investigating ‘suspicious packages’ at London airports, Waterloo station

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, thanked first responders for their “swift actions” and urged residents and visitors to the city to “remain vigilant.”

In a separate incident late on Tuesday, Transport for London said that Kings Cross St Pancras underground station had been closed due to fire alert.

Earlier on Tuesday, police confirmed they were investigating security alerts at two London airports as well as at Waterloo station involving “suspicious packages.”

“British Transport Police were called to Waterloo station at 11.40am today following reports of a suspicious package. The item is currently being assessed by specialist teams. Cordons are in place however train services continue to operate as normal at this time,” the British Transport Police said.

Metropolitan Police posted on Twitter: “At approximately 12.10hrs today, Tuesday, 5 March, police were called to a report of a suspicious package at London City Airport Aviation House, Royal Docks, #Newham”

“Specialist officers are at the scene. The building has been evacuated as a precaution.”


Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

Updated 19 March 2019
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Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

  • Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied
  • One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland

ZURICH: Switzerland’s parliament approved allowing convicted militants to be sent home to countries where they could face torture, leaving the government to decide how to implement the motion without breaking international law.
The Swiss constitution bans expelling people to countries where they might be subject to torture. But parlimament’s upper house on Tuesday narrowly adopted a motion allowing exceptions for foreign militants, as the Swiss lower house had done.
The motion stems from discontent among lawmakers over the ability of Iraqi militants convicted in Swiss courts of aiding Daesh to avoid being sent home because of the ban on exposing people to torture or other inhumane treatment.
Conservative critics say the ban has cost taxpayer money to care for convicted militants and angered citizens who say Switzerland should not have to host such people on its soil.
Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied.
“The security of the Swiss population has top priority but we also have to adhere to the limits of the rule of law.”
One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland. Freed from prison, he now lives in a transit center for asylum seekers and is fighting extradition.
Switzerland said this month it would not help bring home its own stranded citizens who had joined extremist forces in Syria and Iraq, insisting national security was paramount.
Switzerland is a signatory to the United Nations’ 1984 Convention against Torture, which bars expulsions of people to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
Iraq is also a party to the convention, but lacks laws or guidelines providing for judicial action when defendants allege torture or mistreatment, Human Rights Watch said in a report last year. It said torture was rampant in Iraq’s justice system.