London attacks: 12 arrested after terrorists go on deadly killing spree

London attacks: 12 arrested after terrorists go on deadly killing spree
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Members of the emergency services attend to victims of a terror attack on London Bridge on Saturday. (AFP / DANIEL SORABJI)
London attacks: 12 arrested after terrorists go on deadly killing spree
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Police respond to a terror attack on London Bridge in London on Saturday. (Reuters / Hannah McKay)
London attacks: 12 arrested after terrorists go on deadly killing spree
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Police officers and members of the emergency services attend to a person injured in an apparent terror attack on London Bridge in London on Saturday. (AFP / DANIEL SORABJI)
London attacks: 12 arrested after terrorists go on deadly killing spree
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Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London on Saturday. (Reuters / Hannah McKay)
London attacks: 12 arrested after terrorists go on deadly killing spree
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Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London on Saturday. (Reuters / Hannah MocKay)
Updated 04 June 2017

London attacks: 12 arrested after terrorists go on deadly killing spree

London attacks: 12 arrested after terrorists go on deadly killing spree

LONDON: Seven people died and 48 were injured in the Saturday night terrorist attacks in the center of London, police said. Armed officers shot dead three suspects. The initial figures suggested six people had been killed and 20 injured, but these figures rose through the night — a seventh person died Sunday morning.

On Sunday afternoon British police said they had arrested 12 people in east London over the attack. The arrests were made as the Metropolitan Police's head of counter-terrorism Mark Rowley said early Sunday that police were conducting further investigations to make certain all those connected with the attack were accounted for.
 
Rowley said the suspects were confronted and shot by police "within eight minutes of the first call."
 
He added the three attackers were wearing what appeared to be suicide vests but they turned out to be fake.
 
Police said they were called just after 10 p.m. (2100GMT) Saturday to reports of a vehicle hitting pedestrians on the bridge, which crosses the River Thames in central London.
 
Soon after, there were reported stabbings at nearby Borough Market.
 
The violence turned a summery Saturday night in an area packed with bars and restaurants into a scene of panic and chaos, with officers running through crowded streets screaming for people to flee and lifeboats drafted to help clear the area.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May said it was a potential act of terrorism and the Metropolitan Police force said it had declared the attacks as “terrorist incidents.”
 
The Metropolitan Police, which tweets at @metpoliceuk, said the attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market had been “declared as terrorist incidents.”

The force advised people to avoid the areas “to allow the emergency services to deal with the ongoing incidents.”

The force tweeted a warning telling people in the area to run to safety, hide and then call police if it is safe to do so.

On Sunday morning the London police chief said patrols would be increased, including those by armed officers.

 

About two hours after the first reports of an incident, television images showed people walking away from the London Bridge area with their hands on their heads. Police tweeted that Londoners should “remain calm but be alert and vigilant.”

Nick Brandon of British Transport Police said the force had received reports of “multiple” casualties in an incident possibly involving a knife and a vehicle. He said he did not know how serious the injuries were.

Multiple witnesses reported a vehicle veering off the road and hitting several pedestrians; others also said they saw a man with a knife.

British website MailOnline quoted witnesses as saying the three attackers shouted "this is for Allah" as they left the van and attacked victims.

An eyewitness at the scene told Arab News that she had seen what looked like a man with his throat cut on London Bridge.

"We saw a man coming off the bridge with blood all over him and it looked like he had his throat slashed," the eyewitness said.

"He was holding his neck. Just been told by the police all the bridges are shut, we can't get back and so are trapped in the cordon. It also smells quite strongly of burning," the eyewitness added, requesting not to be named.

Nick Archer, who was in the London Bridge area, said  he came out of a bar and looked to his left and saw a man lying on the ground. He thought the person had been drinking, but then police vans flew by. 

Several witnesses said some victims also appeared to have stab wounds.

London’s Metropolitan Police said armed officers were at two scenes — on the bridge and the nearby market, a busy area of restaurants and bars.

Witnesses reported a vehicle hitting pedestrians and seeing injured people on the ground on the bridge. One, Holly Jones, told the BBC a white van veered off the road and struck as many as six people. She said she saw at least four or five people on the ground.

Another witness, Will Heaven, said he saw people who appeared to have been hit, and one being put into an ambulance.

“We saw injured people on the road, injured people on the pavement,” he told Sky News.

A man who gave only his first name, Ben, told BBC radio that he “saw a man in red with a large blade, at a guess 10 inches long, stabbing a man, about three times” near Borough Market.
 
Other witnesses reported seeing as many as three attackers with knives.
 
Gerard Vowls, 47, told The Guardian newspaper that he saw a woman being stabbed by three men at the south end of London Bridge. He said he threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them.
 
“They kept coming to try to stab me . they were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” he told the newspaper. “I want to know if this girl is still alive. I’ve been walking around for an hour and a half crying my eyes out. I don’t know what to do.

Transport for London said busy London Bridge station and two others were closed at the request of police.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she was “in contact with officials and is being regularly updated.” Downing St. said she would chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee on Sunday.

Meanwhile world leaders have responded to Saturday’s attack. The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation condemned the attacks, reinforcing the UAE’s stance against extremism and terrorism.

The ministry said the latest attacks in the heart of London reaffirmed the urgent need for concerted international efforts to combat terrorism, calling for joint cooperation and addressing this serious scourge that threatens the security and stability of countries all over the world.

And in Saudi Arabia an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom's “strong condemnation and denunciation of the attacks.”

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In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the source offered the Kingdom's condolences to the families of the victims and to the UK Government and people, wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded.

The official source reiterated the “Kingdom's solidarity with the United Kingdom against terrorism and extremism which target security and stability around the world without exception.”

The Saudi embassy in the UK warned Saudis in London, especially in the south-east of the British capital, to be cautious and follow up police instructions.

And it advised Saudi nationals to call the embassy in case of an emergency on: +44 (0)20 7917 3000, +44 (0)7947 253753,
+44 (0)7946 779614.

The incident  comes less than three months after an attacker ran down people with a vehicle on Westminster Bridge, killing four, then stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament.

On May 22, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured dozens at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. After that attack, Britain’s official threat level from terrorism was raised to “critical,” meaning an attack may be imminent. Several days later it was lowered to “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely.


(With SPA; AP & Reuters)


America-Israel relations reach crossroads

America-Israel relations reach crossroads
President Joe Biden (L) and Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett. (AP)
Updated 48 min 45 sec ago

America-Israel relations reach crossroads

America-Israel relations reach crossroads
  • Bennett’s government says it wants to repair relations with the Democrats and restore bipartisan support in the US for Israel

WASHINGTON: Their countries at crossroads, the new leaders of the United States and Israel have inherited a relationship that is at once imperiled by increasingly partisan domestic political considerations and deeply bound in history and an engrained recognition that they need each other.
How President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett manage that relationship will shape the prospects for peace and stability in the Middle East. They are ushering in an era no longer defined by the powerful personality of long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu, who repeatedly defied the Obama administration and then reaped the rewards of a warm relationship with President Donald Trump.
Bennett’s government says it wants to repair relations with the Democrats and restore bipartisan support in the US for Israel. Biden, meanwhile, is pursuing a more balanced approach on the Palestinian conflict and Iran. The relationship is critical to both countries. Israel has long regarded the United States as its closest ally and guarantor of its security and international standing while the US counts on Israel’s military and intelligence prowess in a turbulent Middle East.
But both Biden and Bennett are also restrained by domestic politics.
Bennett leads an uncertain coalition of eight parties from across Israel’s political spectrum whose main point of convergence was on removing Netanyahu from power after 12 years. Biden is struggling to bridge a divide in his party where near-uniform support for Israel has eroded and a progressive wing wants the US to do more to end Israel’s half-century occupation of lands the Palestinians want for a future state.
Shortly after taking office, the new Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, recognized the challenges Israel faces in Washington.
“We find ourselves with a Democratic White House, Senate and House and they are angry,” Lapid said upon taking the helm at Israel’s Foreign Ministry a week ago. “We need to change the way we work with them.”
A key test will be on Iran. Biden has sought to return to the Iran nuclear deal that President Barack Obama saw as a signature foreign policy achievement. Trump withdrew from the pact to cheers from pro-Israel US lawmakers and Israel. Though Iran has not yet accepted Biden’s offer for direct negotiations, indirect discussions on the nuclear deal are now in a sixth round in Vienna.


Dhaka resumes vaccination drive with China’s Sinopharm

Dhaka resumes vaccination drive with China’s Sinopharm
Updated 20 June 2021

Dhaka resumes vaccination drive with China’s Sinopharm

Dhaka resumes vaccination drive with China’s Sinopharm
  • Bangladesh had stalled initiative for nearly two months after failing to procure 30 million doses of Covishield from New Delhi

DHAKA: Bangladesh resumed its nationwide inoculation drive against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with China’s Sinopharm vaccine on Saturday, nearly two months after halting the initiative due to a failed supply of 30 million doses from India.

Starting from January, New Delhi had vowed to deliver the Covishield vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, to Dhaka, in a phased manner.

Bangladesh’s health authorities launched the anti-virus drive in early February after India sent 7 million doses of the Covishield vaccine in two installments.

However, after a sudden spike in COVID-19 infections across the country, New Delhi held back its vaccine exports for domestic consumption, resulting in a stalled supply of the crucial jabs for Dhaka from April.

Bangladesh currently has 1.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China in recent weeks, which authorities began administering at 67 centers across the country from Saturday.

“We resumed vaccinations on a limited scale, targeting 5.5 million people. It will take two to three weeks to inoculate these people,” Dr. Shamsul Haque, line director at the Directorate General of Health Services, told Arab News.

He added that authorities had devised 10 categories of people to receive the vaccines on a priority basis.

These include frontline health workers; police officials; migrant workers registered with the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training; municipal staff; public school students; employees of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority; and Chinese nationals, among others.

In addition to the 1.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China, Bangladesh has also signed a deal for an additional 15 million jabs of Sinopharm for an undisclosed amount.

“We are expecting to receive the first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine in July. All the procedures are complete at our end. Now, the Chinese authorities are doing some formalities,” Dr. A. S. M. Alamgir, principal scientific officer of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, told Arab News on Sunday.

Alamgir added that nearly 1.4 million people have already registered to receive the first dose of the vaccine.

“Our immediate task is to inoculate these people,” he said, adding that the mass vaccination drive will gain traction next month after more doses arrive.

In addition to China’s Sinopharm vaccines, talks are also under way to procure 1 million doses of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine from COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing facility for developing countries led by the World Health Organization (WHO), by the first week of August.

“We are also putting maximum effort to source Russia’s Sputnik vaccines. Discussion is at the final stage now. We can expect Sputnik in the country anytime now,” Alamgir said.

Out of 166 million, only 4.3 million Bangladeshis have received both doses of the vaccine, with experts urging the government to “purchase the COVID-19 vaccines from anywhere as soon as possible.”

“We have to complete this mass inoculation drive in 1.5 to 2 years. Otherwise, the immunity derived from the vaccine will start decreasing, and then we will need to administer another booster dose,” Professor Muzaherul Huq, former adviser at WHO Southeast Asia, told Arab News.

He added that the government should also focus on the domestic production of vaccines.  

“Our government can achieve capacity by producing vaccines in the country through technology transfer from other countries,” Huq said.

“It will take only three months to produce vaccine this way. Private sector pharmaceuticals also should be engaged in this regard,” he added.

One way to do this, he explained, is to increase health infrastructure and human resources at the sub-district level to ensure better health services to the public during the pandemic.  

In recent weeks, Bangladesh has witnessed a spike in COVID-19 infections, with a current infection rate of more than 18 percent.

As of Sunday, the country had registered nearly 850,000 cases and over 13,500 deaths since March last year.


UK’s Labour urged to tackle ‘vile Islamophobia’

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Labour Muslim Network (LMN) has urged Sir Keir Starmer to distance himself and the party from claims antisemitism is to blame for falling support in the Islamic community. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 20 June 2021

UK’s Labour urged to tackle ‘vile Islamophobia’

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  • Muslim groups slam claim that party is losing Muslim support due to its efforts to tackle antisemitism
  • Muslim Council of Britain: Any senior Labour official propagating this view ‘should be sacked’

LONDON: Muslim organizations in the UK have condemned a claim by a senior Labour Party strategist that antisemitism among Muslims is responsible for the main opposition party’s decline in popularity.

The anonymous party strategist told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that Labour is “haemorrhaging” support from Muslims due to “what (party leader) Keir (Starmer) has been doing on antisemitism.”

The source claimed that Muslim voters are frustrated by excessive efforts to tackle antisemitism.

The Labour Muslim Network (LMN) on Sunday wrote to Starmer urging him to “urgently and publicly” challenge this view, saying the anonymous claim is a “patently vile, Islamophobic briefing by a ‘senior Labour official’.”

It added: “This racism needs to be challenged urgently and publicly by the Labour leadership and the party as a whole. There can be no hiding behind the anonymity of the source and briefing.

“LMN and Muslim members expect thorough and immediate action. Islamophobia from ‘senior Labour strategists’ cannot be tolerated.”

The accusations have come ahead of the crucial Batley & Spen by-election in England’s northwest, where Labour is set to lose its seat amid declining Muslim support.

A poll has revealed that Labour is set to lose Batley and Spen, with 47 percent of the vote expected to go to the Conservative Party. 

Miqdaad Versi, a media spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Those who have tried to understand, have identified many local issues as well as Labour positions on Palestine, Kashmir and Islamophobia — and being seen to take Muslim voters for granted. If advisors to the Labour leader don’t get this, they shouldn’t be talking about it.”

He added: “Any senior Labour official who tells the media that Muslims are not voting Labour because Muslims support antisemitism, should be sacked. No ifs, no buts.”


Alleged hitman in UK trial admits to killing Lebanese law student 

Law student Aya Hachem, 19, was hit by a bullet fired from a vehicle near her home in May 2020  in Blackburn, a town in northern England. (Supplied: Lancashire Police)
Law student Aya Hachem, 19, was hit by a bullet fired from a vehicle near her home in May 2020 in Blackburn, a town in northern England. (Supplied: Lancashire Police)
Updated 20 June 2021

Alleged hitman in UK trial admits to killing Lebanese law student 

Law student Aya Hachem, 19, was hit by a bullet fired from a vehicle near her home in May 2020  in Blackburn, a town in northern England. (Supplied: Lancashire Police)
  • Zamir Raja, 33, is one of eight people on trial accused of her murder
  • Hachem and her family moved as refugees to the UK from Lebanon when she was a young girl

LONDON: An alleged hitman accused of shooting dead a 19-year-old Lebanese woman in the UK has admitted killing her and has changed his plea in the middle of an ongoing trial.

Aya Hachem, 19, was hit by a bullet fired from a vehicle near her home in May 2020 in the northern English town of Blackburn, and according to a post-mortem examination, died as a result of the gunshot.

The law student was shopping for groceries at the time, and police confirmed that she was not the intended victim of the shooting, adding that she was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Zamir Raja, 33, is one of eight people on trial accused of her murder and has admitted manslaughter after initially denying any involvement.

Despite Raja’s change in plea on June 18, the prosecution said that it will continue to push for a murder conviction and alleges that the shooting was the culmination of a long-running dispute between two tire salesmen in the town, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.

The court heard from prosecution lawyers that Raja was allegedly hired by one of the tire salesmen to kill the other, but ended up shooting Hachem in the bungled attack.

“As your Lordship knows, that plea is not acceptable to The Crown and we propose to continue against Mr Raja,” Nicholas Johnson for the prosecution said to Judge Mr. Justice Mark Turner.

Turner, addressing the jury, said: “By way of brief explanation, the position of the prosecution is that they continue to assert that Mr. Raja is guilty of murder.

“As you have heard he has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but because the prosecution wish to proceed on the murder charge — as they are entitled to elect — the trial will continue.”

Hachem and her family moved as refugees to the UK from Lebanon when she was a young girl.

“Our beautiful 19-year-old daughter Aya has been taken from us in the most horrific circumstances,” her family said in a statement shortly after her death last year.

“She was the most loyal, devoted daughter who enjoyed spending time with her family, especially her brothers and sisters Ibraham, Assil and Amir.”

Aya had excelled during her time at high school in Blackburn and was in her second year at Salford University where she was studying to become a solicitor, according to her family.

At the time of her death, she had just completed her second year exams and was also learning to drive, they added.


Doctor details attempts to save Princess Diana 

A doctor who was on duty when Princess Diana was rushed to hospital after her Paris car crash has spoken to the press for the first time. (AFP/File Photo)
A doctor who was on duty when Princess Diana was rushed to hospital after her Paris car crash has spoken to the press for the first time. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 20 June 2021

Doctor details attempts to save Princess Diana 

A doctor who was on duty when Princess Diana was rushed to hospital after her Paris car crash has spoken to the press for the first time. (AFP/File Photo)
  • MonSef Dahman: ‘We fought hard, we tried a lot, really an awful lot’
  • He said he is speaking out to combat enduring conspiracy theories about princess’s death

LONDON: A doctor who was on duty when Princess Diana was rushed to hospital after her Paris car crash has spoken to the press for the first time about how his team tried “everything possible” to save her life.

Dr. MonSef Dahman was 33 on the night of the infamous crash, serving as a young duty general surgeon at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital.

He had been working a long shift from 8 a.m. the previous day, and was called to the A&E department to treat a “young woman” in the early hours of Aug. 31, 1997.

“I was resting in the duty room when I got a call from Bruno Riou, the senior duty anaesthetist, telling me to go to the emergency room,” Dahman, 56, told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.

“I wasn’t told it was Lady Diana, but (only) that there’d been a serious accident involving a young woman.

“The organisation of the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital was very hierarchical. So when you got a call from (such) a high-level colleague, that meant the case was particularly serious.”

Dahman said he realized the gravity of what was unfolding when he arrived at A&E moments later. His duty room was just 50 meters away from the emergency section.

Riou was in the room and personally taking care of the woman on the stretcher, which was a “sign of the special importance,” Dahman said.

It was then that he was told that the patient was Diana, Princess of Wales. “It only took that moment for all this unusual activity to become clear to me,” he added.

“For any doctor, any surgeon, it is of very great importance to be faced with such a young woman who is in this condition. But of course even more so if she is a princess.”

He kept a lid on the full details of Diana’s treatment, but said an X-ray showed she had “very serious internal bleeding” and underwent a procedure to help remove excess fluid from her chest cavity and blood transfusions.

Diana, 36, suffered a cardiac arrest at about 2:15 a.m., prompting the medics to give her an external heart massage and emergency surgery while she was lying on the stretcher in A&E.

“I did this (procedure) to enable her to breathe,” Dahman said. “Her heart couldn’t function properly because it was lacking in blood.

Alain Pavie, one of France’s leading heart surgeons, was woken at home to help save Diana, and she was moved to an operating theater.

He suspected that the team had not found the full details of her internal bleeding, so he conducted further exploratory surgery.

His investigation discovered that she had suffered a tear in her upper left pulmonary vein at the point of contact with the heart.

Pavie sutured the cut, but her heart rate had flattened before the surgical exploration and would not restart.

“We tried electric shocks, several times and, as I had done in the emergency room, cardiac massage,” said Dahman. “Prof. Riou had administered adrenaline. But we could not get her heart beating again.”

The team spent an hour attempting to resuscitate the princess. “We fought hard, we tried a lot, really an awful lot. Frankly, when you are working in those conditions, you don’t notice the passage of time,” Dahman said. “The only thing that is important is that we do everything possible for this young woman.”

The doctor said one of the reasons for breaking his silence on the night of the crash was to demonstrate how the Parisian medical staff had given every effort to save her, in contrast to relentless conspiracy theories about Diana’s death.

A medical review some years after the event reaffirmed Dahman’s statements. “No other strategy would have affected the outcome,” the report concluded.