Saudi scholar’s shooting in Philippines captured on film

Saudi scholar’s shooting in Philippines captured on film
Updated 04 March 2016

Saudi scholar’s shooting in Philippines captured on film

Saudi scholar’s shooting in Philippines captured on film

MANILA: A failed attempt to assassinate a prominent Saudi scholar in the Philippines was caught on television, showing the hooded assailant firing at the preacher from close range.
The gunman walked toward Sheikh Aaidh Al-Qarni’s car on Tuesday night as he was leaving a packed auditorium in the southern port city of Zamboanga, where he had given a lecture.
The assailant hid behind a crowd seeking selfies with a smiling Qarni as his vehicle slowly rolled out of the venue, footage on local station Mensahe TV showed.
Qarni, who was on a Daesh or ISIS hit list, survived the attack with wounds to his right shoulder, left arm and chest, according to police.
A shocked crowd scampered for safety covering their heads as the shots were fired.
His companion in the car, Saudi Arabia’s religious attache to the Philippines, Sheikh Turki Assaegh, was also wounded in the attack.
Qarni’s police escorts shot the assassin dead. Identification cards found on his body indicated he was a 21-year-old student though police said they were not ruling out forgery.
Two other suspects were arrested at the scene of the shooting.
Investigators are looking at the possibility that the attack was influenced by Daesh, but there was no evidence to show that yet, said Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, Zamboanga police spokeswoman.
“As of now, we don’t have any conclusions on their group affiliations,” Galvez told AFP.
A special police unit investigating the case has asked for a month to determine the affiliation of the suspects, who live on the outskirts of Zamboanga, a southern Philippine port city that is frequently targeted by Islamic extremists.
Qarni was in Zamboanga for a speaking engagement at the Western Mindanao State University organized by local Muslim leaders.
Mensahe TV footage showed him speaking on a table strewn with red and white flowers before a packed and sweltering crowd.
Daesh militants who control vast swathes of Iraq and Syria had called on “lone wolves” to attack Qarni and several other Saudi preachers in the latest issue of Dabiq, their monthly online magazine.
Saudi media outlets described Qarni as a senior Islamic scholar and he has more than 12 million followers on Twitter.
In his book “Awakening Islam,” the French academic Stephane Lacroix included Qarni in his list of “the most famous” Saudi preachers.


Greece slaps restrictions on two tourist islands to curb COVID

Greece slaps restrictions on two tourist islands to curb COVID
Updated 05 August 2021

Greece slaps restrictions on two tourist islands to curb COVID

Greece slaps restrictions on two tourist islands to curb COVID
  • The Mediterranean country is also battling a wave of wildfires during a protracted heatwave
  • Restrictions will come into effect from Friday and run until Aug. 13

ATHENS: Greece imposed a night time curfew and banned music on two popular tourist islands on Thursday to contain the spread of COVID-19, its civil protection deputy minister said.
The Mediterranean country, which is trying to rebuild a tourist sector hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is also battling a wave of wildfires during a protracted heatwave.
Restrictions will come into effect from Friday and run until Aug. 13 after a recommendation by the committee of infectious disease experts advising the Greek government.
The areas affected are the island of Zakynthos in western Greece, where the epidemiological load worsened by 69% from a week earlier, and the city of Chania in Crete where it rose 54%.
The restrictions include a night time curfew and a complete 24-hour ban on music at all entertainment venues.
"We call on the residents and visitors in these areas to fully comply with the measures to limit the spread of the virus," the Civil Protection agency said.
Greece reported 2,856 COVID-19 infections on Wednesday and 16 related deaths, bringing the total since the first case was detected in February 2020 to 503,885 and 13,013 respectively.
Last month, Greece's south Aegean islands were marked dark red on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's COVID-19 map after a rise in infections, meaning all but essential travel was discouraged.


Russia-led drills begin on Afghanistan border

Russia-led drills begin on Afghanistan border
Updated 05 August 2021

Russia-led drills begin on Afghanistan border

Russia-led drills begin on Afghanistan border

DUSHANBE: Russia on Thursday kicked off military drills near the border with Afghanistan, as Kabul struggles to peg back a Taliban offensive after the withdrawal of US-led troops.
Moscow has positioned itself as bulwark against potential spillover from Afghanistan into Central Asia, where three former Soviet republics share borders with the conflict-wracked country.
The joint exercises at the Kharb-Maidon training ground just 20 kilometers from the Tajik border with Afghanistan involve 2,500 troops from Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Russia’s Central Military District said in a statement.
The drills that will continue until August 10 are being held in parallel to joint Russian-Uzbek maneuvers featuring 1,500 troops in Uzbekistan’s Termez near the border with Afghanistan.
Russia maintains military bases in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s two poorest countries.


India to deploy ‘neutral force’ after deadly internal border clash

India to deploy ‘neutral force’ after deadly internal border clash
Updated 05 August 2021

India to deploy ‘neutral force’ after deadly internal border clash

India to deploy ‘neutral force’ after deadly internal border clash
  • Six police officers dead and dozens injured in July 26 border clash
  • The two states have been wrangling over their border for decades

NEW DELHI: India will deploy a “neutral force” at the frontier of two states in its north-east, after their long-running border dispute escalated into a deadly showdown, officials said Thursday.

The July 26 clash on the border between Assam and Mizoram left six police officers dead and dozens injured, in a major embarrassment to the central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a joint statement released Thursday, the governments of both states said a “neutral force” would be deployed by the Indian government in disputed areas.

“For this purpose, both the states shall not send their respective forest and police forces for patrolling, domination, enforcement or for fresh deployment to any of the areas where confrontation and conflict has taken place,” the statement read.

Mizoram was part of Assam until 1972 and became a state in its own right in 1987.

The two states have been wrangling over their border for decades, but such deadly escalations are rare.

The government of Mizoram Thursday also expressed regret — for the first time since the clashes — over the death of the six police from Assam.

Last week, the chief ministers of both states tweeted that they would seek an amicable approach to the dispute.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma belongs to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party while Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga heads the Mizo National Front — an ally of the ruling BJP alliance.

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UK govt aims to relocate 2,500 Afghan translators and families

UK govt aims to relocate 2,500 Afghan translators and families
Updated 05 August 2021

UK govt aims to relocate 2,500 Afghan translators and families

UK govt aims to relocate 2,500 Afghan translators and families
  • Regular reprisals against Afghan interpreters and their families have escalated as the Taliban have seized vast swathes of the countryside

LONDON: The UK government said on Wednesday it aimed to resettle hundreds more Afghan translators and their families, after criticism from former military top brass it was not doing enough.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel said they were committed to relocating the families of 500 staff who supported British troops in Afghanistan “as soon as possible” — some 2,500 individuals in total.

The pledge came after published criticism from senior defense figures, urging a review of the relocation scheme in the face of escalating violence in Afghanistan and threats to former local staff.

“There has been considerable misreporting of the scheme in the media, feeding the impression the Government is not supporting our former and current Afghan staff,” Wallace and Patel wrote.

“This could not be further from the truth and since the US announced its withdrawal we have been at the forefront of nations relocating people,” they added.

In response to pressure following the announcement of a US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the UK accelerated its relocation scheme for Afghan local staff in May.

Since the expansion was announced, 1,400 Afghan staff and their families had been relocated, equalling the total number resettled in Britain since 2014.

Six former heads of the UK armed forces and other senior military figures voiced concern in a letter to The Times last week that Afghan staff had been rejected for relocation because of security concerns.

Often these individuals were deemed ineligible because they were dismissed from service.

The ministers asserted they needed to ensure a “balance between generosity and security” and would now offer relocation to 264 members of Afghan staff who were dismissed for a “relatively minor administrative offense.”

Of these, they said, 121 individuals in that category have already been offered relocation.

The Taliban on Wednesday claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s deadly bomb and gun attack on the capital, Kabul, amid a wider assault by the Islamist group on a string of provincial capitals.

Regular reprisals against Afghan interpreters and their families have escalated as the Taliban have seized vast swathes of the countryside in the weeks following the withdrawal announcement.

As humanitarian displacement from the conflict increases, the UK also said it would make further changes to its rules to allow former Afghan staff and their families to make applications for relocation outside Afghanistan.


Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Olympics

Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Olympics
Updated 05 August 2021

Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Olympics

Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Olympics
  • Nationwide, Japan reported more than 14,000 cases for a total of 970,000
  • Some experts have called for a current state of emergency in Tokyo and five other areas to be expanded nationwide
TOKYO: Tokyo reported 5,042 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, hitting a record since the pandemic began as the infections surge in the Japanese capital hosting the Olympics.
The additional cases brought the total for Tokyo to 236,138. Nationwide, Japan reported more than 14,000 cases on Wednesday for a total of 970,000.
Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since mid-July, and four other areas have since been added and extended until Aug. 31. But the measures, basically a ban on alcohol in restaurants and bars and their shorter hours, are increasingly ignored by the public, which has become tired of restrictions.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has denied that the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics have caused a rise in infections.
Alarmed by the pace of the spread, some experts have called for a current state of emergency in Tokyo and five other areas to be expanded nationwide.
Instead, Suga on Thursday announced a milder version of the emergency measures in eight prefectures, including Fukushima in the east and Kumamoto in the south, expanding the areas to 13 prefectures.
Experts at a Tokyo metropolitan government panel cautioned that infections propelled by the more contagious delta variant have become “explosive” and could exceed 10,000 cases a day in two weeks.