Solidarity, resolve expressed after Russia attack; toll hits 14

Two women react at a symbolic memorial at Technologicheskiy Institute subway station in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 05 April 2017

Solidarity, resolve expressed after Russia attack; toll hits 14

MOSCOW: Even though mourning was only declared in St. Petersburg following the attack on the city’s metro, in cities across Russia people are taking part in solidarity gatherings.
Fourteen people were killed and some 50 injured in the terrorist attack, representing 17 regions.
The Kremlin’s reaction was expressed by President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who classified it as a challenge for every Russian, including the head of state.
Putin gave assurances that the authorities will take necessary measures to help the victims and their families, and expressed his condolences.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said “freaks specializing in brainwashing” were behind the attack, referring to propagandists and recruiters worldwide.
Additional security measures are necessary, and Russia is now at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, he said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected speculation that the attack was linked to Russia’s foreign policy, particularly Syria, saying terrorism cannot have any justification.
Alexey Filatov, vice president of the Association of Veterans of Russia’s Alpha Anti-Terror Unit, said: “No metro station — whether in Moscow, St. Petersburg or Paris — has the technical means to prevent a terrorist attack.”
The tools at security services’ disposal are very limited and mostly for show, “billions thrown into the wind,” he added.
Alexander Mikhailov, former head of the Federal Security Service’s Public Relations Center, said metal and magnetic detectors in public places cannot solve the problem, especially during rush hour, due to the level of human traffic.
Many experts are linking the attack to Putin’s presence in the city at the time, considering it a direct challenge to him.
Ordinary people have been bringing flowers to Russian embassies worldwide and lighting candles to commemorate the victims.
The deadly bombing has shone a fresh spotlight on extremism coming from ex-Soviet Central Asia after authorities said the attacker was from the region.
Investigators named Akbarjon Djalilov, 22, as the bomber, with officials in Kyrgyzstan saying he was born in the country but was a Russian citizen and had lived there since he was 16.
No group has claimed the attack and Djalilov’s motivations remain unknown.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 20 February 2020

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.