World reacts to New Zealand terrorist attacks on mosque

World reacts to New Zealand terrorist attacks on mosque
Many of those caught up in the shootings may have been migrants and refugees, said the New Zealand PM. (AP)
Updated 18 March 2019

World reacts to New Zealand terrorist attacks on mosque

World reacts to New Zealand terrorist attacks on mosque
  • King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offer their condolences to New Zealand's government
  • The Muslim World League expressed its deep sorrow and condemnation at the terrorist attack

Political, Muslim and leaders of other faiths expressed their disgust at deadly shootings at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday as some revealed their citizens had been caught up in the bloodshed.
The timing of the shootings in the city of Christchurch, during Friday prayers, and the posting on social media of what appeared to be live, point-of-view video footage of the assault by a gunman added to the distress of many.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered their condolences to New Zealand’s government after the terrorist attacks on two mosques in the country.

King Salman on Friday sent a cable of condolences to the Governor-General of New Zealand Batsy Reddy for the victims of Friday’s terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch.

"We strongly condemn this outrageous criminal act and would like to express to you and to the families of the deceased and to the people of New Zealand on behalf of the people and government of Saudi Arabia our heartfelt and sincere condolences.” 

He assured the Kingdom’s support for New Zealand and said that the terrorist attack was condemned by “all religions and international conventions.”

"The heinous massacre of the worshipers at mosques in New Zealand is a terrorist act and underlines the responsibility of the international community to confront the rhetoric of hatred and terrorism, which is not recognized by religions or values of coexistence among peoples," said King Salman via his official Twitter account.

An official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry also condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack. 
The source reiterated Saudi Arabia's condemnation of terrorism in all its forms, regardless of its source, and said that terrorism has no religion and no homeland. It emphasized the Kingdom's position that religions should be respected.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly warned of racist and anti-cultural rhetoric at the national level, and has called on some governments to adopt balanced rhetoric and policies that contribute to the integration of Muslims into the societies of these countries.
Speaking in Geneva, Dr. Fahd Al-Mutairi, head of Human Rights Section at the Kingdom’s Permanent Mission to the UN office in Geneva, took the opportunity to express his deepest condolences to the victims of the terrorist attack in the Christchurch mosques.
Al-Mutairi expressed concern about some racist speeches and policies in some countries, including Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Britain, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
Al-Mutairi expressed the Kingdom’s deep concern about the leniency and favoritism of some of those who support the rhetoric of extremism, hatred and violence, as “there are those who welcome these despicable speeches in some parliaments of these countries, while welcoming the pretext of freedom of opinion and expression.
“We call on these countries to pass laws that limit racism against Muslims,” he added.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, tweeted “heartfelt condolences” to New Zealand on Friday.
Gargash wrote: “Our collective work against violence & hate must continue with renewed vigor. Our thoughts & prayers are with the families of the victims.”


Kuwait supports New Zealand and all measures it takes to maintain its security and the safety of its citizens and residents on its territory, the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry said. 


The sultanate affirmed its firm stance of rejecting all forms of violence, terrorism, hatred and racism against innocent people, and expressed its sincere condolences to the families of the victims. 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman condemned what he called a “racist and fascist” attack.
“This attack shows the point which hostility to Islam and enmity to Muslims has reached,” Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.
“We have seen many times Islamophobic discourse against Islam and Muslims turning into a perverse and murderous ideology. The world must raise its voice against such discourse and must say stop to Islamophobic fascist terrorism,” he said.


Jordanian State Minister for Media Affairs Jumana Gneimat emphasized the country’s “rejection of terrorism and the assault of those living in peace and places of worship.”


Egypt condemned the terror attack in New Zealand and demanded that the names of victims be disclosed immediately.  

Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars

Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars strongly condemned on Friday the horrific incident that targeted worshippers in two mosques in New Zealand, resulting in dozens of people being killed and injured. 

It called on “the world, its organisations and institutions to criminalise racist speech as soon as possible because it nourishes extremism and terrorism, and leads to such brutal terrorist incidents.”

The council also emphasized that hate speech should be fought because it does not serve peace and security which is what the world wants. 

Al-Azhar Mosque

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb condemned the terrorist attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Al-Azhar warned in a statement that the attack is a serious indicator of the consequences of the escalation of hate speech, xenophobia and the spread of Islamophobia in many European countries, stressing the need not to tolerate the racist groups committing such abhorrent acts.

Muslim World League

The Muslim World League expressed its deep sorrow and condemnation at the terrorist operation that claimed dozens of lives and injuries in some mosques in New Zealand, which clearly reflected one of the worst forms of inciting hatred in a world that is most in need of circumventing the values of love, harmony and peace.
The Secretary-General and Chairman of the World Council of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, said that this barbaric work is added to the parallel models of the acts of Daesh and Al-Qaeda. The league always emphasizes the importance of tackling extremism and counter-extremism. In particular, the enactment of legislation that prevents all forms of incitement of hatred, including religious and ethnic contempt.
The Secretary-General of the Association confirmed his confidence in the New Zealand government to bring those involved in this crime to justice and to prosecute them as terrorists.

Arab League 

The Arab League strongly condemned the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.   

United Nations 

The Secretary-General of the UN Antonio Guterres is appalled by the terror attacks in New Zealand and said there is an urgent need to work better globally to tackle Islamophobia, a spokesman said. 

Egypt's Coptic Church

Egypt's Coptic Church condemned the terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand. 


Morocco strongly condemned the terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand.
“Indonesia strongly condemns this shooting act, especially at a place of worship while a Friday prayer was ongoing,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a statement.
She was earlier cited by media as saying six Indonesians had been inside the mosque when the attack occurred, with three managing to escape and three unaccounted for.
Indonesia’s ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, told Reuters inquiries were being made as to whether Indonesians were caught up in the attack. There are 331 Indonesians in Christchurch, including 134 students, the foreign ministry said.
In Muslim-majority Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the biggest party in its ruling coalition, said one Malaysian had been wounded in the attack he described as a “black tragedy facing humanity and universal peace.”
“I am deeply saddened by this uncivilized act, which goes against humanistic values and took the lives of civilians,” he said in a statement.
“We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims and the people of New Zealand.” 

The Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that “I hope New Zealand will arrest these terrorists and do the necessary under the law of the country.”

Iranian state TV Friday said a spokesman of the foreign ministry, Bahram Ghasemi, condemned the shootings as a “terrorist attack.”
Iran’s ambassador to New Zealand, Jalaleddin Namini, told Iranian state TV that there were no Iranian nationals among those killed or wounded. However, Namini said he is still waiting for a confirmed list of the victims. 
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Wahidullah Waissi, said on Twitter three Afghans had been wounded.
“My thoughts are with the family of Afghan origin who’ve been shot and killed at this heinous incident.”
Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal condemned the incident on social media, using the hashtag #pakistanagainstterror.


Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sent a message to her New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, expressing her “deep shock” and condemnation of the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.
Hasina’s press wing said the prime minister reached out to Ardern on Friday.
An international cricket match between New Zealand and Bangladesh has been canceled after players from the visiting team narrowly avoided a mass shooting at one of the mosques.
Bangladesh’s cricket board president says the team is safe in a locked hotel in Christchurch.

More on New Zealand attacks: At least 49 killed as gunman livestreams New Zealand mosque ‘terrorist attacks’

Meanwhile, other world leaders have also reacted to the terrorist attack, which New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

United States

US President Donald Trump is expressing “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand after “the horrible massacre in the Mosques.”
Trump tweeted Friday as the White House issued a statement condemning the attacks at two mosques.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described the attack as a “vicious act of hate.” She says the US stands in “solidarity” with the people of New Zealand.

Trump tweeted that “innocent people have so senselessly died” and added: “The US stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!“

“An attack against peaceful people gathering for prayer is shocking in its cruelty and cynicism,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
“I hope that those involved will be severely punished,” he said in a message to Arden.

European Union
“Harrowing news from New Zealand overnight” said EU Council president Donald Tusk. “The brutal attack... will never diminish the tolerance and decency that New Zealand is famous for.”

“The European Union will always stand with New Zealand and against those who heinously want to destroy our societies and our way of life,” the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said.

United Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth II said she's “deeply saddened” by the “appalling” terrorist attacks.

“I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch... At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders,” she said in a message.
“Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives,” she said, paying tribute to emergency workers and volunteers providing support to the injured.

British Prime Minister Theresa May offered her deepest condolences “after the horrifying terrorist attack in Christchurch. My thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence.”


The prime minister of Norway, which saw 77 people killed in a far-right attack eight years ago, has expressed solidarity with New Zealand after deadly attacks on two mosques.
Erna Solberg told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that “although it is across the globe, this is a strong reminder of how important it is for all of us to help bring down tensions, work against extremism, and that we show solidarity with each other when something like that happens.”
“This looks like it is a terrorist attack from the extreme right against immigrants and refugees,” Solberg said, adding it is “a reminder that we have to fight extremism in all forms.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his country was “profoundly affected by the brutal crimes in Christchurch.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sent a telegram to the prime minister of New Zealand, expressing her condolences.
“It is a perfidious attack on worshippers and their houses of prayer,” Merkel said Friday. “The attack on Muslim citizens is also an attack on New Zealand’s democracy and its open and tolerant society. We share these values and thus also the horror of the New Zealanders.”

Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez said his thoughts were with the victims, families and government of New Zealand after terrorist attacks by “fanatics and extremists who want to destroy our societies.”


Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has sent his condolences to the victims of the mosque attacks in New Zealand that left 49 dead.
Conte on Friday called the attacks “dreadful,” noting that the victims were “hit while they were in a place of prayer. All forms of intolerance, hatred and violence are inacceptable.”


France is increasing security measures at mosques and other religious sites after the deadly attack against two mosques in New Zealand.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted Friday that he ordered regional prefects to send patrols and reinforce surveillance of places of worship “as a precaution.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, also in a tweet, denounced the “odious crimes against the mosques in New Zealand” and said that France will work with international partners to fight terrorism.

“France stands against any form of extremism,” the country’s president Emmanuel Macron said.  
The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris condemned the attack in Christchurch, which left at least 49 dead.
France is home to western Europe’s largest Muslim community. While French Muslim and Jewish sites are sporadically targeted by vandals, France has not seen a major attack on mosques of the kind that targeted New Zealand.


Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has tweeted that she was “shocked by the attack in Christchurch,” saying “we condemn terrorism in all forms.”
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen also commented that “extremism has again shown its ugly face.”
Denmark’s Jewish community, which was targeted in a February 2015 attack where a guard was shot and killed, also expressed “shock” at the news of the New Zealand attack.


Hungary’s president has sent a telegram to New Zealand’s governor-general expressing all Hungarians’ condolences to the families and friends of the victims’ in the “ruthless attack” against the two Christchurch mosques.
President Janos Ader said he was “deeply shocked” by the news and wished the injured a speedy and full recovery.
Ader said that “in these difficult hours, we all express our sympathies with those who mourn their loved ones lost in this pointless terror attack.”


Japan’s top government spokesman has offered his condolences to the victims of mosque attacks in New Zealand and says Japan stands by the people of that country.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, in a regular news conference Friday, expressed “heartfelt condolences” to the shooting victims and their families, while extending sympathy for the injured.
Suga expressed “solidarity with the people of New Zealand.”
Japan’s Foreign Ministry issued an emergency safety advisory to Japanese nationals in the area, urging them to stay indoors and follow instructions from the local authorities.
The ministry also advised the Japanese in Christchurch to closely monitor local news “to secure your own safety.”
So far no Japanese have been affected by the attacks

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is denouncing the "senseless acts of violence" in the Christchurch mosque shootings and is praying for the Muslim community and all New Zealanders.
In a telegram of condolences Friday, Francis offered his solidarity and prayers to the injured and those who are mourning lost loved ones, and noted that it was a particularly difficult time for security and emergency personnel.
He said he was "deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life cause by the senseless acts of violence at two mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks."
The message sent by the Vatican secretary of state ended by saying: "Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation."

British-Muslim entrepreneur brings Ramadan to a close performing adhan over London’s Tower Bridge

British-Muslim entrepreneur brings Ramadan to a close performing adhan over London’s Tower Bridge
Updated 08 May 2021

British-Muslim entrepreneur brings Ramadan to a close performing adhan over London’s Tower Bridge

British-Muslim entrepreneur brings Ramadan to a close performing adhan over London’s Tower Bridge
  • “I am just an ordinary individual and for me to be blessed with such an opportunity is humbling,” Rahman said
  • Last year, he performed the adhan in Canary Wharf, the heart of London’s financial district

LONDON: A British-Muslim entrepreneur serenaded London’s Tower Bridge with the adhan as the sun set over the British landmark on the last Friday of Ramadan 2021. 
Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, 35, delivered the adhan in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin, Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla, wearing a white thobe and Saudi ghutra on Friday as part of an interfaith virtual iftar.
It is a style that he has perfected since childhood and has fueled the British-Bangladeshi’s passion for performing the adhan in public. 
Mulla has been a muezzin at the Grand Mosque since 1975 and his voice is recognized by Muslims worldwide regardless of whether they have visited Makkah.
The adhan at Tower Bridge marked the end of an iftar hosted by Tower Hamlets Homes, the East London Mosque & London Muslim Center and Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum.
Rahman spoke of the huge satisfaction he gets from delivering the adhan in public and how grateful he felt for being given the opportunity to deliver one from Tower Bridge.


“I am just an ordinary individual and for me to be blessed with such an opportunity is humbling,” he said.
Although Rahman has been performing the adhan in mosques and at events for more than two decades, this is the second time he had delivered it at an iconic London location.
Last year, he performed the adhan in the heart of London’s financial district, Canary Wharf, and the video of his performance was watched millions of times.
Rahman added he hopes to deliver the adhan at “other global iconic locations such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
“After delivering the adhan in Canary Wharf last year, I realized that the call to prayer is such a strong message and that I was sending it out across the world via social media,” Rahman said.  
“It had such a huge reach even on LinkedIn, and many non-Muslims said how mesmerizing they found the adhan, and were asking about what it actually was,” he added.

Rahman said he was initially shocked at the amount of traction the video of last year’s adhan received. “But then I realized that this is the word of God and the call to prayer and therefore it’s bound to reach that many people,” he said. 
“The impact of last year’s adhan was just unbelievable. The video reached millions of viewers.”
Ahead of performing the adhan at Tower Bridge, Rahman told Arab News he was nervous as he wanted to live up to last year’s performance. 
“I don’t want it to go wrong and I want to live up to expectations. However, I am also reminding myself to do this for the sake of God only. With social media, it’s easy to get sidetracked and think about the traction that this delivery of the adhan will get. But that shouldn’t be my intention. I keep reminding myself that I am doing it for the sake of God and for Him alone.”
London-based Rahman said he thanks God for giving him this opportunity and a melodious voice.  
“I am just an ordinary person but I feel like God has favored me with such a voice and such an opportunity, both of which I am grateful for. It gives me a sense of satisfaction that the adhan I am delivering is being appreciated all around the world. It makes me praise God even more.”

Maldives arrests two over attack on ex-president

Maldives arrests two over attack on ex-president
Updated 08 May 2021

Maldives arrests two over attack on ex-president

Maldives arrests two over attack on ex-president
  • Police said two people had been arrested but did not give details
  • Nasheed is now the Maldives second most powerful leader as speaker of parliament

MALÉ, Maldives: Maldives police have arrested two people over an assassination attempt on former president Mohamed Nasheed who has been taken off life support, officials and relatives said Saturday.
The Indian Ocean island has called in international help to investigate Thursday’s bomb attack that left the democracy pioneer and climate activist needing 16 hours of surgery to remove shrapnel from his lungs, liver, chest, abdomen and limbs.
Police said two people had been arrested but did not give details.
They were looking for four suspects seen in the vicinity of the attack on Thursday night just as Nasheed was about to get in his car.
Australian Federal Police officers and two experts from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime were expected to join the investigation on Saturday.
The 53-year-old, who is now the Maldives second most powerful leader as speaker of parliament, spoke with his family to say he was feeling “much better,” his sister Nashida Sattar said.
“The doctors are very happy with recovery progress,” added his brother Ibrahim Nasheed.
“He is out of life support and breathing on his own. I managed to exchange a few words. He promised to come back stronger and I believe him.”
In its first report on the attempted assassination, the Maldivian National Defense Force (MNDF) said a homemade bomb was used.
“The improvised explosive device was triggered using a remote control,” an MNDF official told reporters in the capital Male.
The bomb was rigged on a motorcycle parked near Nasheed’s car.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih thanked Nasheed’s medical team and said he prayed for his “quick recovery and return — stronger and steadier than ever.”
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but officials from Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) alleged political interests may have been involved.
Nasheed had been vocal on the need to bring to justice 72 suspects in a $90 million theft case dating from the tenure of former strongman president Abdulla Yameen.
Nasheed ended decades of one-party rule in the archipelago and became its first democratically elected president in 2008. He was toppled in a military backed coup in 2012.
He is also known internationally as a champion for battling climate change and rising sea levels that he says threaten to submerge the nation of 1,192 tiny coral islands.
Nasheed was barred from contesting a 2018 presidential election because of a terrorism conviction after he was forced out of office.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared the conviction politically motivated.
He returned from exile in Britain, however, and his party won legislative elections in 2019 and he is now parliament speaker.

Philippine troops drive away armed rebels from public market

Philippine troops drive away armed rebels from public market
Updated 08 May 2021

Philippine troops drive away armed rebels from public market

Philippine troops drive away armed rebels from public market
  • The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters did not take any hostage or put up resistance when government troops took positions
  • The rebel group broke off from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim rebel group in the south

COTABATO, Philippines: Dozens of Muslim militants occupied a public market overnight in the southern Philippines before fleeing after a tense standoff with government forces, officials said Saturday.
The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters did not take any hostage or put up resistance when army troops and police took positions at dawn Saturday near the public market in the farming town of Datu Paglas, said military spokesman Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar.
“They went into the market and stole food but got stuck inside when they saw that our forces have taken positions to ensure other buildings could not be threatened,” he told reporters.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.
The rebel group broke off from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim rebel group in the south, after it entered into peace talks and later signed a Muslim autonomy deal with the government in 2014. The breakaway guerrillas have continued sporadic attacks and bombings, with some aligning themselves with the Daesh group.
Baldomar said government forces locked down the town center, where the public market is located, and closed a highway at the height of the hours-long rebel occupation of the market. After the gunmen fled in batches following talks with local officials, soldiers found at least four homemade bombs placed by the rebels along the highway. Troops were pursuing the gunmen, he said.
Datu Paglas Vice Mayor Mohammad Paglas, however, gave a different account and told reporters that the mostly young Muslim rebels arrived on board five trucks in the town center Friday to rest and mark the holy fasting month of Ramadan. He added some of the gunmen have relatives in the town in predominantly Muslim Maguindanao province.
“A big number of gunmen arrived and told us they just wanted to take a rest since it’s Ramadan. We allowed them,” Paglas said.
When troops and police, some on board armored personnel carriers, arrived, the rebels were forced to retreat into the public market for cover but allowed people to leave the building, he said.
Paglas said there was an exchange of fire before the rebels fled, as requested by local officials.
Baldomar said some of the gunmen opened fire on civilian motorists, who were trapped along the highway. The motorists later managed to flee with the help of the military, he said.
Government forces have been on alert in the south, homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation, after hundreds of mostly local militants with some foreign supporters linked to the Daesh group laid siege on southern Marawi city in 2017.
They took over buildings, including banks, school campuses and a hospital, before troops quelled the insurrection after five months with the help of surveillance aircraft deployed by the US and Australia. The audacious attack at the time reinforced fears that the Daesh was gaining a foothold in the Southeast Asia despite battle setbacks in Iraq and Syria.

Libyan coastguard vessel that shot Italian fisherman was gift from Rome

The Libyan patrol boat Ubari approaches an Italian trawler. (Photo: Italian Navy)
The Libyan patrol boat Ubari approaches an Italian trawler. (Photo: Italian Navy)
Updated 08 May 2021

Libyan coastguard vessel that shot Italian fisherman was gift from Rome

The Libyan patrol boat Ubari approaches an Italian trawler. (Photo: Italian Navy)
  • Italy and Libya signed cooperation deal in 2017 to stem flow of migrants from North Africa
  • Italian navy intervened to escort fishing vessels, which were searching for red prawns, to safety

LONDON: A Libyan coastguard vessel involved in the shooting of a Sicilian fisherman on May 6 was given to Tripoli by Italy to stop the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean, it has emerged.

Col. Massoud Abdalsamad of the Libyan coastguard told Italian media that the ship “fired warning shots into the air against vessels which had allegedly trespassed into Libyan waters.” Three Italian fishing boats had entered its territorial waters without permission in search of red prawns.

Giuseppe Giacalone, captain of one of the fishing boats, told Italian news agency ANSA: “It is a miracle we are alive. We were shot at. The cabin of our boat is full of holes.

“It was 2 p.m. on Thursday when it happened. While we were sailing towards the northeast, a Libyan patrol boat caught up with us and started shooting. The shots hit us and the dashboard glass shattered.”

An Italian navy vessel intervened in the skirmish, escorting the fishermen to safety and rescuing one who had been shot in the arm. The Italian navy later confirmed that the ship involved in the shooting, formerly known as the Ubari, was given to Libya in 2018.


The Libyan coast guard on Thursday fired on three Italian fishing boats, injuring the captain of one of the vessels, Italian authorities said. Click here for more.

In 2017 former Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti and the head of Libya’s UN-backed government, Fayez Al-Sarraj had signed a deal in which Italy agreed to train and equip Libyan authorities in an effort to prevent migrants and refugees traveling from North Africa to Europe.

But several agencies have warned many people who attempt to flee Libya face human-rights abuses — and have accused officials of complicity.

In April the Guardian revealed Abdalsamad had been wiretapped by Italian prosecutors investigating people-smuggling operations. In June 2017, he reportedly told Italian coastguard officials who called to ask for his help to rescue a group of migrants in distress: “It’s a day off. It’s a holiday here. But I can try to help. Perhaps, we can be there tomorrow.”

The International Organization for Migration said 126 people died in the waters of the Mediterranean that weekend.

And on April 22 this year, the Ubari allegedly ignored a distress call from a vessel before 130 asylum seekers died.

Skirmishes between Libyan authorities and Italian fishermen searching for prized red prawns have been common since the 1990s. They intensified after former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi unilaterally extended the boundary of his country’s territorial waters from 12 to 74 miles offshore in 2005.

According to the Distretto della Pesca fishing cooperative, more than 60 Italian boats have been seized or confiscated by Libya in the past 25 years, with at least 40 people detained and several injured.

In September 2020, two Sicilian fishing boats, the Antartide and the Medinea, were intercepted and escorted to Benghazi. The 18 crew members, including eight Italians, six Tunisians, two Indonesians and two Senegalese, were held for more 100 days, causing a major diplomatic incident.

Manila allows emergency entry to Filipino seafarers on virus-hit ship

Manila allows emergency entry to Filipino seafarers on virus-hit ship
This file photo taken on April 27, 2021 shows Philippine coastguard personnel aboard their ship BRP Cabra monitoring Chinese vessels (R) at Sabina Shoal west of the Philippine island of Palawan. (AFP)
Updated 07 May 2021

Manila allows emergency entry to Filipino seafarers on virus-hit ship

Manila allows emergency entry to Filipino seafarers on virus-hit ship
  • Half of Philippine crew on board Panamanian-flagged ship test COVID-19 positive after 2-day stop in India
  • Philippine authorities allow transfer of 2 critically ill crew members to hospital despite country’s travel ban

MANILA: Philippine authorities are providing emergency assistance to 12 members of an all-Filipino-crewed container ship who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after making a two-day port stop in India.

According to a report by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), the Panamanian-flagged MV Athens Bridge departed from India on April 22 and arrived in Haiphong, Vietnam on May 1 where the ship’s crew took a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test.

The results showed that of the 21 crewmen, 12 were positive for the virus prompting Vietnamese authorities to refuse them entry.

The ship then sailed to Manila to seek refuge despite an existing travel ban being in place in the Philippines. After arriving in the capital on Thursday, two of the seafarers were evacuated to a hospital, both in a critical condition.

The rest of the crew have remained onboard the vessel off Sangley Point in Cavite but will be moved to a quarantine facility.

The exception was granted to the MV Athens Bridge by the country’s Department of Health after an emergency meeting with the Bureau of Quarantine, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Department of Transportation.

Filipino Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said: “Considering the growing concern of this recent variant first detected in India, we were made aware that the vessel had travel history to the country.

“But in deciding our action steps, our guiding principle was that those were our hardworking countrymen aboard and we would never leave any Filipino behind.”

He pointed out that the rescue operation had been carried out in accordance with strict health protocols on handling COVID-19 cases.

“We recognize the risk that this act of compassion brings, but we assure Filipinos that we complied with the protocols in handling COVID-19 patients and have coordinated with other government agencies to deliver urgent assistance to our countrymen. We also thank everyone who assisted the crew of MV Athens Bridge,” Duque added.