France takes tough line on Calais migrants

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb talks to police during a visit in Calais on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 23 June 2017

France takes tough line on Calais migrants

CALAIS: French President Emmanuel Macron’s new government took a tough line on Calais migrants Friday, with his interior minister saying he does not want the northern port to become an “abscess.”
Making his first visit to a city which has for years been a magnet for migrants and refugees hoping to cross to Britain, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb ruled out building a reception center for asylum-seekers in Calais, saying it would only encourage more people to come.
“We’ve seen this before, it starts with a few hundred people and ends with several thousand people who we can’t manage,” Collomb said as he met with security forces, officials and aid workers in Calais.
“That’s why we don’t want a center here.”
Collomb said: “We are going to reinforce security with the arrival of two additional mobile security force units to stop any new camps from forming.”
Authorities shut down the notorious “Jungle” camp in Calais, which at its height was home to some 10,000 people living in dire conditions, last October.
But hundreds of migrants — mostly Afghans, Sudanese and Eritreans — are still at the port, clashing sporadically with police as they try every night to stow away onto trucks heading to Britain.
This week a Polish driver was killed when his truck burst into flames after hitting a roadblock, set up by migrants hoping to slow the traffic to make it easier to jump onto vehicles.
The roadblocks began reappearing in late May with a new uptick of migrants in the region — and a surge for Europe, with Italy registering more than 65,000 arrivals since January.
While the tent city of the Jungle is gone, migrants say conditions in Calais are bleaker than ever.
“There is no tap and we cannot drink, we cannot wash. There is nowhere to sleep. At night I sleep without a tent on the ‘mountain’,” said Jamal, a 24-year-old Afghan, pointing to a huge rubbish dump.
Collomb pledged Friday to present Macron with a plan for asylum reforms in the next two weeks, vowing in particular to tackle African people-smuggling networks at their root.
Eleven charities went to court on Wednesday demanding the construction of a government refugee center in Calais, deploring the miserable conditions in which migrants find themselves.
Collomb had angered aid groups with comments Thursday rejecting the proposal, saying that building such a center would be like creating an artificial festering “abcess” that would keep growing.


FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

Updated 09 December 2019

FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

  • Special agent Rachel Rojas thanked Saudi Arabia for its cooperation in the investigation
  • Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was shot dead after he opened fire and killed three people at the base in Florida

PENSACOLA: Investigators believe a Saudi Air Force lieutenant acted alone on Friday when he killed three people and wounded eight at a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida before being fatally shot by police, the FBI said on Sunday.
Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville office, said the shooter used a Glock model 45 9mm handgun that he had purchased legally in Florida.
“We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack and no arrests have been made in this case,” Rojas, the lead investigator on the case, said at a news conference.
“We are looking very hard at uncovering his motive and I would ask for patience so we can get this right,” she said.
Authorities confirmed the suspect was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was on the base as part of a US Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies.
The FBI identified him as Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21.
A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot the gunman, authorities said, ending the second deadly attack at a US military base within a week. Within hours, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had called US President Donald Trump to extend his condolences and pledge the Kingdom’s support in the investigation.
Rojas said there were several Saudi students who were close to the shooter and are cooperating with investigators.
“Their Saudi commanding officer has restricted them to base, and the Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation,” she said. “I thank the kingdom for their pledge of full and complete cooperation.”

Meanwhile, a second victim was identified as Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida, who joined the Navy after graduating from high school last year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Haitham's mother, Evelyn Brady, herself a Navy veteran, said the commander of her son's school called her and told her Haitham had tried to stop the shooter.