UK terror probe after mass stabbing at shopping mall

Police officers guard outside the Arndale shopping center on Friday after several people were stabbed in Manchester, Britain. (Reuters)
Updated 12 October 2019

UK terror probe after mass stabbing at shopping mall

  • Man in his 40s arrested on suspicion of serious assault at Arndale Center

MANCHESTER: Counterterror police were on Friday probing a mass stabbing at a shopping center in northwest England that left several people injured and needing hospital treatment. The attack happened at the Arndale shopping center in the heart of Manchester, where a extremist suicide bomber killed 22 after an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.
A man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of serious assault.
Footage posted online appeared to show one police officer restraining the suspect on the floor as another stands over him pointing a Taser.
A shop worker who gave his name only as Jordan, 23, told Britain’s domestic Press Association news agency that “a man was running around with a knife lunging at multiple people, one of which came into my store visibly shaken with a small graze.”
Greater Manchester Police and North West Ambulance Service said four people were injured during the incident, revising downwards an initial toll of five.
Two women — one of them aged 19 — were taken to hospital with stab wounds and were said to be in a stable condition following the attack, which happened shortly after 11:00 a.m. (1000 GMT).

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he ‘is shocked by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected.’

A man in his 50s was also being treated while the fourth victim, a woman in her 40s, did not require treatment, police said.
Earlier, the force said: “Given the location of the incident and its nature, officers from Counter Terrorism Police North West are leading the investigation as we determine the circumstances.” Officers were “keeping an open mind about the motivation,” the force said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected.”
The Arndale Center had already been the scene of a terror attack in 1996 when the largest peacetime bomb ever detonated in Britain injured 212. The 1,500-kg truck bomb, planted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, caused an estimated £770 million ($970 million) damage.
Two people were also seriously injured last New Year’s Eve when a 25-year-old man went on a stabbing rampage near the city’s Victoria railway station.
He was later detained under mental health legislation.
The Arndale Center is near the Manchester Arena, where the Ariana Grande concert attack happened, and the railway station.


World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

Updated 3 min 34 sec ago

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

  • Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will attend the event

JAIPUR: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started on Thursday.

 Known as the “greatest literary show on earth,” the five-day event brings to one venue more than 500 speakers of 15 Indian and 35 foreign languages, and over 30 nationalities.

 Among the festival’s participants are Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

 The event has been expanding, with over 400,000 people attending it last year and even more expected to show up this time.  The growing crowd has made the medieval Diggi Palace, which hosts it, look small, and organizers are planning to shift the event to a bigger venue next year.

 Scottish historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the organizers, said: “The first time we came to the Diggi Palace in 2007, 16 people turned up for the session of which 10 were Japanese tourists who walked out after 10 minutes, as they had come to the wrong place. Things have improved a little since then. We are now formally the largest literature festival in the world.”

 Dalrymple, who has extensively written on medieval India and South Asia, has played a pivotal role in promoting the festival.

 The other two organizers are its director, Sanjoy K. Roy, and writer Namita Gokhale, who along with Dalrymple made the JLF become one of the most sought-after events in India.

 “Why has the literary festival taken off in this country in this extraordinary way? It goes back to the tradition of spoken literature, the celebration of literature orally through the spoken word has deep roots in this country,” Dalrymple said.

 “So the idea that a literary festival is a foreign import is something that can’t be maintained. We’ve tapped into something very deep here. Literature is alive and is loved in India,” he said.

 Inaugurating the festival’s 13th edition, celebrated British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy said: “Every number has its own particular character in the story of mathematics. For me it is 13; 13 is a prime number, an indivisible number, and the JLF is certainly a festival in its prime.”

 The festival this year is taking place amid a raging debate about India’s new citizenship legislation and mass agitation on the issue of preserving the secular fabric of the nation.

 Reflecting on the prevailing mood in the country, Roy, in his opening remarks, said: “We are now faced with a situation where we see a spread of the narrative of hatred. Literature is the one thing that can push back against it and so can be the arts. All of us have a responsibility to do so and this is not the time to be silent anymore.”

 Gokhale said: “Ever since its inception 13 years ago, we at the Jaipur Literary Festival have tried to give a voice to our plural and multilingual culture. We live in a nation which is defined by its diversity, and it is our effort to present a range of perspectives, opinions, and points of view, which together build up a cross-section of current thinking.”

 She added: “We seek mutual respect and understanding in our panels — it is important to us that these often conflicting ideas are respectfully presented and heard. We also resist predictable and self-important all-male panels, and try to ensure that the vital voices of women resonate through all aspects of our programming.”

 One of the attractions of the event this year is the presence of Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize in economics last year.

 There are also panel discussions on Kashmir, the Indian constitution and history.

 The prevailing political situation in South Asia is also reflected by the absence of Pakistani. Before, popular Pakistani authors would attend the JLF, but delays in visa issuance and a hostile domestic environment forced the organizers to “desist from extending invitations.”